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Ghana now has plea bargaining law

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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has assented to a bill to formally introduce plea bargaining into the administration of criminal justice in the country in respect of all offences.

The introduction of plea bargains is backed by the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) (Amendment) Act, 2022 (Act 1079).

Plea bargaining is a process in criminal justice where an accused person relinquishes the right to go to full trial in exchange for some other benefits.

A statement issued in Accra by Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, said the benefits of plea bargaining to the State included a reduction in the caseload of the courts and of prosecutors.

It said it would also decongest the prisons due to reduced sentencing aiding in the reform of accused persons and the satisfaction of victims of offences through compensation and restitution, in addition to the punishment of the accused.

Other benefits include saving the State resources through the reduction of protracted trials.

The statement said for an accused person, benefits may include a reduction of the offence charged to a lesser offence, a reduction in punishment for an offence charged or a withdrawal of some of the charges against the accused person.

It said Act 1079 created exceptions to plea negotiations for offences such as high treason, high crime, rape, defilement, genocide, robbery, kidnapping, murder, attempted murder, abduction, piracy, hijacking, and an offence related to public elections.

“The decision to exclude the application of plea bargaining in respect of certain classes of offences was backed by strong public policy considerations,” it added.

The interest of the State and the need to protect the vulnerable in society are paramount.

The statement said in order to ensure a sound and efficient application of the new law, a series of training programmes would be organised for judges and prosecutors in the Office of the Attorney-General.

Others to benefit from the training are the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Prisons Service and other stakeholders in the legal profession.

It said the enactment of the plea bargaining law represented one of the innovations by the Office of the Attorney-General to reform the criminal justice system in Ghana.

The statement said the Attorney-General remained committed to ensuring the passage by Parliament of the Community Sentencing Bill and a general overhaul of the Criminal (Procedure) Act, 1960 (Act 30) to eliminate undue delays in the prosecution of criminal cases.

Source: GNA

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