Attorney-General’s Department developing guidelines for implementation of  plea-bargaining  

Mrs Evelyn Keelson, a Chief State Attorney, says the Attorney General’s Department is in the process of developing guidelines for the implementation of the plea-bargaining law in the country.  

She said the guidelines would indicate specifically what was expected of prosecutors regarding the preparation of the plea-bargaining agreement.  

Mrs Keelson was speaking at a training programme for Police prosecutors in the Greater-Accra Region as part of a project being implemented by the Legal Resources Centre with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) in Accra.  

The project is dubbed: “Improving Criminal Justice And The Administration Of Justice Through Advanced Technology Solutions.”  

The training is being organized for 120 Police Prosecutors over four days, segregated into two batches with the focus of building the capacity of Police Prosecutors on legal processes to follow in criminal processes and to educate them on recent changes in the law.  

She said currently, the Attorney General had not issued any authorization for any prosecutor to enter into any Plea-bargaining agreement with any accused persons.  

The Chief State Attorney said the guideline would also help in uniformity.  

She said in the coming days, the AG would issue a letter to all Police prosecutors to indicate that cases that exceeded GH₵500,000 value should be referred to the AG.  

Mrs Keelson said the letter from the AG would also include how Police prosecutors should carry themselves while conducting prosecution in court, they were representatives of the AG in all criminal matters.  

“We have to conduct ourselves properly and very well in all the things we do regarding prosecutions,” he added.  

She called on the Police prosecutors to collaborate among themselves and support each other with information in their practice.  

Mr Richard Gyambibi, Principal State Attorney, urged the prosecutors to have ample knowledge of the offence for which the accused had been charged before considering Plea-bargaining agreements.  

He said they needed to develop negotiation skills and have knowledge of plea-bargaining.  

He said the prosecutor had the role to initiate the plea agreement, inform the victim or his representative about the contents of the plea agreement and consider the views of the investigator.  

Mr Gyambibi said to conclude the plea agreement, the plea agreement needed to be signed and filed within seven days after its conclusion and serve the victim with the plea agreement.  

He said after conviction and sentence based on a plea agreement, no appeal shall lie against the judgment, however, the accused or prosecutor may apply to set aside judgment by reason of fraud, misrepresentation, undue influence, and mistake.  

Others are duress, illegality, incapacity, and breach of rules of natural justice.  

Mr Gyambibi said Plea-bargaining might result in the withdrawal of the charge, which had been proffered against the Accused person and by engaging in plea bargaining, an accused may have the number of charges reduced.   

He said a plea-bargaining agreement may enable an accused to receive a reduced sentence.  

“Plea-bargaining enables the accused to reasonably predict, and to an extent, reduce his punishment,” he added.  

He said parties in a plea-bargaining negotiation might negotiate on the sentence to be recommended to the court.  

Mr Gyambibi said this gives the accused an idea of the punishment which he was likely to serve, and it reduced the uncertainty involved in the sentencing of an Accused through a full trial.  

Mr Enock Jengre, the Programmes Officer of the Legal Resources Centre, said the project sought to use technology solutions to improve the administration of criminal justice.  

This is done by building a well-developed automated software system linking all relevant Institutions in the administration of Justice, the Police, the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Department, The Judiciary, and the Prison Service.  

He said advantages of e-justice projects could include significant financial and time saving cost efficiency, a reduction of the cost of justice, easier access to information, enhanced data security and high-quality legal data sets.  

It will also minimise the chances of corruption, speeding up proceedings and to have the capacity to handle more cases with fewer staff, creation of new sources of services and better revenues.  

Source: GNA  

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