It’s an age old problem – have a policy but it isn’t used.
The 2016 Ghana Code for Prosecutors sets out the evidence on which a decision is taken to prosecute must be reliable, relevant, admissible and available (‘Evidence Test’) and in the public interest ( ‘Public Interest Test’). Application of the Evidence and Public Interest Tests ensure prosecutorial decisions are objectively justified and fair.
There is little evidence that the Police who prosecute the majority of matters after charge in Ghana – apply the Code for Prosecutors.
One thing we know about Police Officers is that they respect discipline – in Ghana this is maintained through the Police Service Instructions.
A policy needs to be embedded to ensure its consistent use. The result is an impactful policy, as opposed to it just being a piece of paper.
The public the Police serve need to trust that prosecutorial decision making is made without abuse of power. This is the very foundation of the rule of law. A properly applied Code for Prosecutors can generate greater public confidence, reduce prison remand numbers and delays in the court system.
Including the Evidence and Public Interest Tests in the Police Service Instructions, and mandating they are consistently applied before initiating any prosecution, is a positive development.