Government, through the Finance Ministry, has provided a GH¢2.2 million support for the Legal Aid Fund and the Law Reform Fund, aimed at enhancing access to justice delivery in the country.
Speaking during the launch of the two critical funds yesterday at the Law Court Complex in Accra, President Akufo-Addo said the Law Reform Commission, designated as a subvented agency under the Ministry of Justice, had advocated the establishment of the Law Reform Fund.
According to the President, the Fund should have been in operation some ten years ago to protect the gains made in Ghana’s legal space.
He disclosed that the Law Reform Commission, for example, had only one vehicle, which it acquired in 1996, but through the intervention of the Attorney-General, in February 2022, the Commission was supplied with two new vehicles, bringing its current fleet to three.
“Being fully aware of the significance of reform and development of the laws of any country, not only will I launch this crucial Fund, but I will also throw my full weight behind all activities which will result in the mobilisation of additional resources for the work of the Law Reform Commission,” he assured.
Legal Aid Scheme
The President further explained that the Legal Aid Scheme, which is obligated by the Constitution and the Legal Aid Commission Act, 2018 (Act 977), was to offer legal aid through the provision of legal services to the poor and vulnerable through legal education.
The Commission operates in 11 regional capitals and 46 districts nationwide to administer the services of the Commission. In spite of its staff strength handicap, the Commission, for example, in the first half of 2022, received a total number of 7,558 court cases, and resolved 3,163 of them. Out of 4,414 ADR cases received, 2,233 were resolved.
He bemoaned the inadequacy of funds for the activities of the Commission, which come from government, and allocated by the Ministry of Finance.
“The current office accommodating the Commission has, in fact, become too small, and literally unfit for the attainment of the objects of the Office. The Greater Accra Regional Office and the Head office, for instance, are crammed together on the ground floor of the Council for Law Reporting building. Until this year, the Legal Aid Commission had only 6 vehicles, the last of which it acquired in 2007,” the President said.
The President emphasised that the intervention of the Attorney-General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, had caused 13 vehicles delivered to the Legal Aid office recently, bringing its current fleet to 19.
“I have noted the critical needs of the Commission. The depressing and deplorable conditions within the Commission clearly point to some essential needs that have to be addressed to help the Commission perform its mandate, and they will be addressed,” he assured.
Describing the proper functioning of the law as a vital tool for development for any country, he admitted that in the light of the current challenges, the promotion of the rule of law must be vibrant.
“It is of the utmost importance, and cannot take a back seat, no matter the circumstances. It is necessary for Government to lend its support to institutions whose objects promote the cause of the people, institutions such as the Law Reform Commission and the Legal Aid Commission,” he stated.
He was hopeful that the launch of these Funds would usher in a new, progressive chapter in the lives of the two Commissions, and urged all Ghanaians to contribute generously to the Funds.
The President further assured the Attorney General that the Minister of Finance, through Parliament, will provide adequate resources for the sustenance of these Funds.
He also urged the Board of the Legal Aid Commission, which is chaired by a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Nene Amegatcher, and the Board of the Law Reform Commission, which is chaired by Mr. Anthony Akoto Ampaw, to discharge dutifully their mandates of managing the Funds, in accordance with section 34 of Act 977 and section 13 of Act 822, respectively.
He congratulated the Attorney-General for his activism in initiating efforts in realising the important dream of setting up the two funds.
“Let us, together, mobilise to build and assist him in the discharge of this vital task. And, to that end, I am personally contributing GH¢100,000 to each of the Funds. I am aware that Government, through the Ministry of Finance, is contributing an initial, modest seed fund of GH¢1million to each of the Funds. Hopefully, the Minister will do even more,” the President stated.