The Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has expressed disappointment in the fines slapped on 13 members of pro-New Patriotic Party (NPP) group who escaped from the Circuit Court in Kumasi.
The group members who are standing trial for assaulting the Ashanti regional Security Coordinator George Adjei was on Thursday October 19, 2017 sentenced to a total of GH¢23,400 and asked to sign a bond to be of good behaviour for 12 months.
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But the Center for Democratic Development acknowledges that the process leading to the verdict followed the rule of law, it is saddened by the leniency of the judgment.
According to CDD-Ghana, considering that activities of political party vigilante groups are still rife, the verdict represents a setback in efforts to promote decency in politics.
"What is more disturbing with this case is the continuous failure of institutions in the criminal justice system to professionally discharge their constitutional duty in order to preserve the integrity of the state and uphold the standards of what is right and wrong in our society. For instance, with all the intelligence they possessed, the security agencies could have averted the invasion by providing necessary protection for the Coordinator. Similarly, if the security agencies had learned from the first incident, and provided the necessary security at the courthouse, knowing the group in question the gross interference with the cause of justice could have been avoided," it said.
In a statement, it stated that "The bungling of such a high profile case by institutions in the criminal justice system can only further undermine trust of the justice system and violates the fundamental rights of Ghanaians that everyone is equal before the law. The verdict in the case of the ‘Delta Thirteen’ may be pleasing to NPP-affiliated organs and their supporters."
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However, the outcome of the verdict can only foster impunity, undermine the rule of law and reinforce a dangerously negative political culture.
CDD-Ghana added that the "development has dealt another devastating blow to the keen desire of many Ghanaians for justice and the rule of law. The ‘slap-on-the-wrist’ punishment given to a group of ruling party-affiliated criminal suspects only reinforces the unfortunate impression that incumbent party members and affiliates who break the law can count on the protection of the powers that be, and would not face the full rigors of the law. Indeed, it is also a major victory for a baneful phenomenon in Ghanaian politics: political vigilantism and hooliganism – which the Center and other civil society actors have flagged as posing a mortal danger to democratic politics and national peace."