n African Human Rights Law Journal - Greasing the wheels of legal aid in criminal proceedings in Ghana : an evaluation of the legal and regulatory framework

Volume 19 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



The provision of legal aid to deserving indigent accused persons in criminal proceedings in Ghana is fraught with numerous operational challenges. Despite the country’s ratification of key international legal instruments on legal aid, its strategies for incorporating the letter and spirit of the right to legal aid in its Constitution and enabling legislations have been problematic. Furthermore, several regulatory drawbacks affect the implementation of the public legal aid schemes, especially in criminal proceedings. Consequently, a large number of accused persons, ignorant of the intricacies of the criminal adjudicatory system which is adversarial in nature, are forced despairingly to defend themselves in person at their peril. This article argues that revamping legal aid and guaranteeing its sustainability in criminal proceedings can be achieved only through a review of the normative structure of the right to legal aid and its implementation framework under the public legal aid schemes. The article concludes that the legal and regulatory frameworks governing the operations of legal aid exhibit serious shortcomings that whittle down the country’s limited efforts at enforcing its international obligation to provide state-funded counsel to deserving indigent accused persons. The article adds to the general discourse on the promotion of legal aid in criminal proceedings in Ghana, where the extant scholarship primarily focuses on inadequate funding as the cause of an inefficient system.

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