President Nana Akufo-Addo, through the Finance Ministry, has supported the Legal Aid Fund and the Law Reform Fund with a contribution of ¢2.2 million aimed at promoting the rule of law in the country.
He noted that the Law Reform Commission is designated as a subvented agency under the Justice Ministry and advocates the establishment of the Law Reform Fund.
Speaking at the Law Reform Commission Fund launch and the Legal Aid Commission Fund on Wednesday at the Law Court Complex in Accra, the President said that the fund should have been in operation some 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 intervention of the Attorney-General, in February this year, 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 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 11 regional capitals and 46 districts nationwide to administer the services of the Commission.
The President stated that, in spite of its staff strength handicap, the Commission, for example, in the first half of 2022, received 7,558 court cases and resolved 3,163 of them.
Out of the 4,414 ADR cases received, 2,233 were resolved.
With the main source of funds of the Commission being Government funds, allocated to it by the Ministry of Finance, he bemoaned that fact that these funds are inadequate.
“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 six vehicles, the last of which it acquired in 2007,” the President said.
He continued, “It is refreshing, again, to hear that, through the intervention of the Attorney-General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, 13 vehicles have been recently delivered to the Legal Aid office, increasing its number of vehicles from six 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.”
Describing the proper functioning of the law as a vital tool for development for any country, President Akufo-Addo assured that even though the challenges facing the country are many, the promotion of the rule of law 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.
The President was hopeful that the launch of 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 more 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, Justice Nene Amegatcher, and the Board of the Law Reform Commission, which is chaired by the prominent legal practitioner, Anthony Akoto Ampaw, to discharge dutifully their mandates of managing the Funds, per section 34 of Act 977 and section 13 of Act 822 respectively.
“I congratulate the Attorney-General for his activism towards the realisation of the statutory requirement to establish these two Funds. Let us, together, mobilise to build and assist him in discharging this vital task. And, to that end, I am personally contributing ¢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 ¢1 million to each of the Funds. Hopefully, the Minister will do even more,” President Akufo-Addo added.