President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and government, through the Ministry of Finance, have supported the Legal Aid Fund and Law Reform Fund with a contribution of GH¢2.2million aimed at promoting the rule of law in the country.
Speaking at the launch of the Law Reform Commission Fund and Legal Aid Commission Fund on Wednesday 10th August 2022 at the Law Court Complex in Accra, President Akufo-Addo noted that the Law Reform Commission – designated as a subvented agency under the Ministry of Justice – advocated for establishment of the Law Reform Fund.
The Fund, according to the president, should have been in operation some ten (10) years ago… but this has not been the case.
According to President Akufo-Addo, the Law Reform Commission, for example, had only one vehicle – which it acquired in 1996; but through the Attorney-General’s intervention in February this year, the Commission was supplied with two (2) new vehicles; bringing its current fleet to three (3).
“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 also throw my full weight behind all activities which will result in the mobilisation of additional resources for the Law Reform Commission’s work,” he said.
Touching on the Legal Aid Scheme, which is obligated by the Constitution and the Legal Aid Commission Act, 2018 (Act 977) to offer legal aid through the provision of legal services to the poor and vulnerable through legal education, President Akufo-Addo noted that the Commission operates in eleven (11) regional capitals and forty-six (46) districts nationwide to administer the Commission’s services.
The president stated that in spite of its staff strength handicap, the Commission – for example in the first half of 2022 – received a total number of seven thousand, five hundred and fifty-eight (7,558) court cases, and resolved three thousand, one hundred and sixty-three (3,163) of them. Out of the four thousand, four hundred and fourteen (4,414) ADR cases received, two thousand, two hundred and thirty-three (2,233) were resolved.
With the Commission’s main source of funds being government funds allocated to it by the Ministry of Finance, he bemoaned the fact that these funds are inadequate.
“The current office accommodating the Commission has, in fact, become too small, and literally unfit for 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 six (6) vehicles, the last of which it acquired in 2007,” the president said.
He continued, “It is refreshing, again, to hear that through intervention of the Attorney-General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, thirteen (13) vehicles have recently been delivered to the Legal Aid office, thus increasing its number of vehicles from six (6) to nineteen (19). I have noted the critical needs of the Commission. The depressing and deplorable conditions within the Commission clearly point to some essential needs which have to be addressed to help the Commission perform its mandate, and they will be addressed”.
Describing proper functioning of the law as a vital tool for the development of any country, President Akufo-Addo assured that even though challenges facing the country are many, promoting the rule of law is of 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 Legal Aid Commission,” he stated.
The president was hopeful that launching these Funds will usher in a new, progressive chapter in the lives of the two Commissions, and urged all Ghanaians to contribute generously to the Funds. He assured the Attorney General that the Minister for 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 respected Justice of the Supreme Court – Mr. Justice Nene Amegatcher, and the Board of the Law Reform Commission, which is chaired by the prominent legal practitioner Mr. Anthony Akoto-Ampaw, to dutifully discharge their mandates of managing the Funds, in accordance with section 34 of Act 977 and section 13 of Act 822 respectively.
“I congratulate the Attorney-General for his activism toward realisating the statutory requirement to establish these 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 one hundred thousand cedis (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 one million cedis (GH¢1million) to each of the Funds. Hopefully, the minister will do even more,” President Akufo-Addo added.