Accra, GHANA, October 07, 2011 –
In October of 2011, the Leitner Center participated in Ghana’s first ever Legal Aid Week celebration. The Legal Aid Week celebration promotes awareness around the work done by the Legal Aid Scheme, and highlights the critical role it plays in promoting justice delivery in Ghana. The Scheme endeavors to improve its public profile, and raise both financial, and community support, placing it in a better position to fulfill its Constitutional mandate of providing free legal services to the poor and indigent. The Leitner Center is a committed supporter of Ghana’s Legal Aid Scheme, and Leitner Center Public Service Fellow, Ayinde Sawyer has continued this support by working with the Scheme in Ghana to provide logistical support during Ghana’s first annual Legal Aid Week, and by further providing assistance to the Scheme through the remainder of 2011.
The First Annual Legal Aid Week began at the Kofi Annan Centre at 10 a.m. on October 2, 2011, to an excellent turnout of more than 120 supporters. The event began with remarks from the Chairperson of the opening ceremony Mr. Richard Ackom. Mr. Ackom reinforced the theme of the Legal Aid Week; “Empowering the Vulnerable in Society Through Legal Aid” by informing the audience that proper access to justice (especially for the poor and vulnerable) was a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution of Ghana.
Throughout the week, the Leitner Center requested the support of stakeholder organizations to collaborate with the Legal Aid Scheme, noting that without such collaboration many of the poor and vulnerable citizens of Ghana would be left without relief. One of the more inspiring presentations during the week came from Mr. Solomon Saki, a legal aid beneficiary. His son was accused of stealing a cellular phone and he stated that without the help and dedication of the Legal Aid Scheme, his son would still be in the system. Mr. Saki praised the work done by legal aid, and stated that when he heard about Legal Aid Week, he was compelled to attend and give a testimonial.
The mission of the Leitner Center is to contribute to the promotion of social justice around the world by encouraging knowledge of and respect for international law and international human rights standards in particular. Ghana’s Legal Aid program can help millions of people gain access to a lawyer when in need of one. It is the hope of the Legal Aid Scheme and the Leitner Center that this first annual Legal Aid Week was a catalyst to an overhaul of the current legal aid system, which will lead to an increased budget, and an increase in support from those in a position to provide assistance.