Campaigners for the decriminalisation and declassification of petty offences have called on Parliament to expedite the passage into law, the Non-custodial Sentencing Bill.
They have also resolved to intensify their Campaigns and Public Education for the Amendment of the Criminal Offences Act to decriminalise petty offences.
Speaking at the Launch of the Campaign in Accra, Director of Public Prosecutions, Mrs. Yvonne Obuobisa called for a holistic review of the criminal offences Act and the Criminal Code of 1960 to reflect the exigencies of the time.
Mrs Attakora Obuobisa supported the review off the country’s criminal justice system with the focus on petty offences. She however advocated a system that will be fair and just to society and not the one that always negatively affect only the poor.
The Director of Public Prosecutions asked the campaigners to look beyond just decriminalising petty offences but champion intensive civic education where legal aid will readily be available to the poor who are mostly at the receiving end of the criminal justice system.
The immediate past Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, Professor Edward Quarshigah questioned the existence of petty offences as crimes in the country’s statutes books after ratifying the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights principles on the decriminalisation of petty offences.
He said the principles are intended to guide the member states in their efforts to decriminalising petty offences.
The Executive Director of Criminal History Record Information, Africa Office, Mina Mensah, said Ghana has signed a number of international conventions on decriminalising petty offences and the time has come for the review of the country’s criminal offences Act.
During a panel discussion, it was acknowledged that decriminalising petty offences can play a major role in decongesting the country’s choked prisons.