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Ghana Launches Public Defenders’ Division to Ensure Access to Justice As US Offer Support

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Ghana’s Public Defenders’ Division (PDD) was officially launched by Supreme Court Justice Lord Nene Abayaateye Ofoe Amegatcher, Attorney General Godfred Yeboah Dame, and Director of the United States Department of Justice’s Access to Justice Office Rachel Rossi, on Wednesday. This new division will offer legal assistance and criminal defense services to Ghanaians who cannot afford legal representation.

Established under the Ghana Legal Aid Commission (LAC) in 2018, the PDD has increased legal representation in criminal cases by more than 40 percent in each of the last two years, thanks to the technical assistance provided by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance & Training (OPDAT).

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The U.S. Government also provided 54 laptops to the LAC last month, funded by the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement to help in its mission.

PDD Acting Director Nelson Kporha expressed gratitude to the High Court Justices for appointing the division in appropriate cases and to American partners for supporting the capacity of the PDD to represent accused individuals who cannot afford private counsel.

The launch of the PDD is a significant milestone in ensuring access to justice for all Ghanaians. The division will provide legal defense to indigent and otherwise needy defendants in serious criminal cases.

The U.S. Government has been supporting access to justice in Ghana through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), training more than 1,500 staff from government agencies to use Ghana’s case tracking system and increasing public awareness of legal aid and Alternative Dispute Resolution services. These efforts have reached over five million citizens, especially those who are poor and indigent.

With continued support from the U.S. Department of Justice, through the U.S. Embassy, the PDD aims to increase the number of criminal representations of those who cannot afford private counsel each year, in line with the mandates of the 2018 Legal Aid Commission Act.

For the most part, the launch of the PDD represents a critical next step in ensuring that all Ghanaians have access to justice and receive fair treatment within the country’s legal system.

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