The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Division of the Ghana, Legal Aid Scheme, is urgently appealing for support from government and all stakeholders to save it from collapsing.
According to the division, it urgently needs financial and logistical aid to help it to sustain and enhance its ADR services which are run virtually free of charge to people who are unable to afford such services.
The ADR Division of the Scheme, located near the High Court Complex in Accra has an improper infrastructure for ADR sessions. Its district offices are also facing infrastructure difficulties, as they have to share space with the main Scheme office.
The ADR Division was created in 2010 after a national pilot project on community mediation was undertaken in 2007.
Mr Jonah Mbazor Aboni, Legal Aid Scheme’s National ADR Coordinator, who made the appeal in an interview with ADR Daily in Accra, said that the ADR Division lacked the vital infrastructure needed to facilitate and aid in the quick resolution of disputes.
“With the passing of the ADR Act 2010, the government also granted permission for community mediation to stand on its own. However, the community mediation initiative joined Legal Aid Scheme and became a subdivision of the Scheme, under the name Legal Aid ADR Division,” he explained.
Currently, he said the Division has been able to open 19 offices within the Scheme’s district offices at Dodowa, Techiman, Zeilla, Yendi, Bimbilla, Goaso, Atebubu, Duayawkwanta amongst others.
“We currently have over 50 workers spread across the district offices, and we have four workers here at the main head office,” he added.
Providing statistics on its performance, Mr Aboni said in 2017; the Legal Aid Scheme received about 10,000 cases of which about 7,000 were referred to ADR Division for resolution, adding that the Division recorded a success rate of about 80 percent.
Mr Aboni stated that the lack of a suitable atmosphere to conduct ADR sessions, continue to remain a challenge for the operation of the Division.
“We most often sit under the canopy to conduct mediation, or we use the conference room. And with the conference room, we often have two concurrent sessions which should not be so.
“Our staff capacity is very insufficient and cannot handle a large number of cases that are brought to us for resolution. We are also handicapped regarding funds, vehicles, furniture and infrastructure,” he added.
Mr Aboni appealed to the government and all relevant agencies for assistance to enable it to carry out its mandate for the general benefit of the nation.
“ADR is very beneficial and may be the solution to how we can quickly resolve all civil disputes within the country,” he added.
The Ghana Legal Aid Scheme is a public service organisation within the Justice delivery system of Ghana. It is one of the component institutions over which the Ministry of Justice has oversight responsibility. Governed by a 12 member Board of Directors, the Scheme operates countrywide from ten offices in all the Regional capitals. Ghana Legal Aid recruits Legal Aid Officers (ADR) and Lawyers in Ghana.
The Scheme is tasked under the Legal Aid Scheme Act 1997 (Act 542) to provide legal assistance to the poor and indigent, as well as other persons in the prosecution and defence of their rights under the Constitution of Ghana.
The Legal Aid Scheme is Ghana’s effort at ensuring that constitutional democracy, the rule of law and access to justice extends to the poor and vulnerable who would otherwise be excluded from the formal justice delivery system.
By: Fred Gadese-Mensah/adrdaily.com