Wednesday, 11 March 2015


"I promise you, I will work with your documentary"; this is what the Chief Justice told me this morning when I was invited to her office for a short meeting on my documentary , Locked and Forgotten". via Seth Kwame Boateng’s Facebook page

Yesterday, Joy FM’s senior reporter, Seth Kwame Boateng was granted a privileged audience by the Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana, Mrs. Georgina Wood following a broadcast of  his documentary on Joy FM and Joy News titled ‘Locked and Forgotten’.

The documentary investigated the dehumanizing conditions in our prisons and how some remand prisoners have been locked up for years without sentencing by a competent court of jurisdiction.

The documentary led to the granting of relieves to some prison inmates who have been on remand for years. So, in the normal scheme of things, such wonderful, people focused journalism should be applauded and celebrated.

Seth Kwame Boateng (R) with the Chief Justice
The work put in by Seth Kwame Boateng and the reprieve it had brought to some prisoners could potentially land him the coveted Journalist of the Year accolade at the 2015 Ghana Journalist Awards.

However, what is surprising is the expression of surprise by those who should know better about the flaws in the judicial system and the dehumanizing conditions existing in the prisons. I am talking about the head of the Judiciary, the Interior Minister and others who have direct access to information(s) about the prison system.

This is not the first time such an expose has been carried out on the state of affairs at our prisons. I recall some years back, Metro TV carried out an investigative documentary about life within the four walls of our prisons, bringing to viewers shots of prison cells, inmates infected with various skin  diseases and the poor food they get served.

Other journalists have written extensively on prison conditions. Ex-convicts have complained bitterly, whenever the opportunity had granted itself, about the worst form of treatment they endured at prisons. Lawyers who have visited the prisons have worrying testaments to share about prison life. The CHRAJ and other human rights bodies have complained on many occasions about the inhuman conditions in the prisons as well.

The Chief Justice have made trips to the prisons and seen and heard about the conditions, challenges and complaints. The Interior Minister and many before the current one had been there also. So, for them to express surprise about the system which keeps people on remand for years as well as the dehumanizing conditions at the prisons is utterly surprising.

Yes, I know about the Justice- For- All Programme-where prisoners on remand and others whose sentences are considered absurd per their crimes are given reprieve or amnesty. The programme, instituted in 2007, was to de-congest the prisons. So far, it has achieved an appreciable success rate but then, more should be done to help prisoners on remand.
Human right institutions have on numerous occasions called for prison reforms and on the courts to commit petty criminals to community services instead of full blown prison terms. 

Others have called for improvement on the conditions at the prisons. The prison, as we understand it, should be a reformative institute. However, that purpose seems defeated in the midst of tales of how it is easy for ‘soft’ criminals to become hardened criminals by the end of their prison terms.

The Chief Justice and the Interior Minister have expressed commitment to cause a change within the prison institution and we can only wish them all the best. Measures to improve the lives of inmates is crucial and important and a welcoming news.

The fact that these unfortunate individuals are behind bars does not make them less humans or citizens. It is the responsibility of the state to care and protect the rights of her citizens including incarcerated souls. This should have happened long ago but as the cliché goes: better late than never.

Watch Locked and Forgotten documentary here


  1. I find it hard to believe that the CJ would be surprised about the state of the prison considering that about two weeks ago there was a headline in the Daily Graphic about her making a call for the penal system to be reviewed.

    There must be more to this "surprise" you mention especially with regard to the CJ

    1. some things are beyond comprehension. Perhaps, a case of the one farthest seeing better than the one nearer the real event

  2. I think they use that as an excuse for their inactions but faking lack of knowledge is a big shame in my view. How can you be in charge of a sector and yet be quick to deny happenings in the sector. It is too saddening how our leaders never want to take responsibility for anything. Good piece of writing

    1. we pay them big bucks to work but choose to complain about problems they are being paid to do. Sad situation.
      Let see how this goes

  3. And it came to pass he won,now about the impact...