Ghana makes all criminal offences bailable

The decision by the highest court of the land is likely to open the floodgates for accused persons to file for bailGhana’s Supreme Court has declared all criminal offences in the country’s statute books as bailable, in a landmark decision that is set to give alleged rapists, murderers, pirates and armed robbers among others, the opportunity to be given bail by the courts.

The highest court by a five-two majority, declared  Section 97 (7) of the Criminal Procedure and Juvenile Justice Act [Act 30]  unconstitutional, and accordingly struck it out from the statutes.

Consequent to the decision, all courts that have jurisdiction to try and hear cases such as murder, rape, treason, piracy, defilement, and narcotics will from Thursday, May 5 have the jurisdiction to grant bail in those cases.

Prior to today’s decision, such cases were deemed non-bailable, except in few circumstances such as when there is unreasonable delay in the trial or when the facts of the case do not support the charges.

The law

Section 96(7)  of Act 30 (as amended) – A court shall refuse to grant bail—

(a)  in a case of treason, subversion, murder, robbery, hijacking, piracy, rape and defilement or escape from lawful custody; or [As amended by the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Act, 2002 (Act 633), s. (7)].

(b)  where a person is being held for extradition to a foreign country.

But private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu challenged that February last year in a suit in which he prayed court to pronounce Section 96(7) of the Criminal Procedure and Juvenile Justice Act unconstitutional.

His argument was premised on the grounds that an accused person per the country’s constitution, is deemed innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction hence it was unjustifiable to curtail an accused person’s freedom through remand

Thursday’s ruling is likely to open the floodgates for accused persons whose cases are being tried and languishing in remand to initiate bail applications.

By Stephen Kwabena Effah|
Twitter @steviekgh

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