REPORT ON INTERNSHIP PROGRAM (JULY-SEPTEMBER)
The administration of justice has been trumpeted unendingly to be of grave importance in every society. Attainingthis includes providing to every person equal access to the law. Moreso, it involves the guarantee of legal representation to persons in judicial proceedings. This is especially so in criminal proceedings, where the life and or freedom of an accused person is at stake. Pursuant to the need for providing legal representation particularly to the indigent accused person in Ghana, Mr. Eric Delanyo Alifo founded HelpLaw Ghana.
HelpLaw Ghana is a non-governmental organization established to provide “true legal aid to the poor”. Having identified the problem as the absence of legal assistance to indigent accused persons when they are arrested, charged, and prosecuted by the State, Mr. Eric Delanyo Alifo through the machinery of HelpLaw Ghana has soughtto provide free legal and related services to such indigents. It however became necessary to augment the work force of the organization so as to complement the founder’s efforts at fulfilling the vision of HelpLaw Ghana. Consequently, an internship program was set up.
The internship program was sponsored by the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice through Prof. PaoloGalizzi, a professor of Fordham Law School, New York City. Under the program, three (3) interns were recruited. The internship program spanned a period of three (3) months i.e. July, August and September.
This report is in sections captured as follows:
1. Internship Activities
2. Impact of Internship Program on Interns
The program commenced on the 1st of July, 2013. The activities engaged in include court attendance, the draftand review of documents and legal research and discussions.
1. Court Attendance:
Our main occupation at the commencement of the program was to attend and observe court proceedings. Gradually,we practically understood the processes involved in criminal proceedings such as taking of the plea of the accused persons, examination in chief and cross examinations and application for bail. We also familiarized ourselves withcriminal appeal processes. In addition to understanding the court process, we also got acquainted with the substantive laws such as the Criminal and Other Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) and the Narcotic Drugs (Control Enforcement and Sanctions) Law 1990 PNDCL 236. Often, after court proceedings, we discussed the cases with Mr. Eric Delanyo Alifo. By so doing, we were apprised of the facts of the case and the laws regulating it. We also made suggestions where they became necessary.
2. Draft and Review of Documents:
During the program, we helped in drafting and reviewing legal documents such as motions, written submissions, andapplications for bail and appeals for mitigation of sentences. By so doing, we appreciated how the law regulates the form and format of these documents. Reviewing the case documents enabled us to determine the status of the case with ease. As a result of this, we prepared a simple excel document for tracking the development of cases.
3. Legal Research and Discussions:
As part of our activities, we occasionally undertook legal research under varied topics. One of such researchbordered on the review jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Ghana, which research is still pending. Another such research relates to the attempted exportation of narcotic drug. Undertaking these researches contributed to ourwidening understanding of the law.
As aforementioned, we often discussed cases, whether concluded or pending with Mr. Eric Delanyo Alifo. Whatis more, we occasionally broadened the topics for discussion. An example is the discussion we had on the review jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Ghana, where varied views were expressed as to whether or not the review jurisdiction of the Supreme Court should be retained. This discussion was notwithstanding the fact that the issue had been addressed by the Constitution Review Committee in their report.
IMPACT OF INTERNSHIP PROGRAM ON INTERNS:
Generally, our participation in the internship program has afforded us a better appreciation of the law and of the legal profession. Indeed, we better appreciate the scope of our criminal jurisprudence. Being ourselves aspiring lawyers, this program has provided us a good grounding in the profession especially in the criminal facet of it. Furthermore, working under the supervision of Mr. Eric Delanyo Alifo has helped us understand the essence of undertaking what is known in the legal field as pro bono rather than overly concentrating on generating money. We have acquired the required skills needed in meeting with accused persons knowing that they are innocent until proven guilty. An impact worth mentioning is that of social networking. Having worked together for three months, we have gotten acquaintedwith each other.
Although largely successful, a few challenges were encountered and these are enumerated as follows:
1. Limited Supply of Legal Materials
HelpLaw Ghana, as an organization has a limited supply of relevant legal materials such as academic writings andlaw reports. This has affected researches and preparation of cases.
2. Sole Lawyer
The organization has a sole lawyer who doubles as its founder, Mr. Eric Delanyo Alifo. This poses a challenge when the number of cases to be handled at a time becomes overwhelming. This may result in his inability to take on new cases at certain times.
3. Limited Funding
Indeed every organization requires adequate funding to work successfully at attaining its objectives. However, we have observed that HelpLaw Ghana, despite its applaudable efforts at helping indigent accused persons is attracting little or no funds. This has restricted the extent to which the vision of the organization has been attained.
In view of the above enumerated challenges, we make the following recommendations:
1. We recommend that steps be taken towards procuring useful legal materials for the organization. We therefore implore individuals and corporate bodies to support HelpLaw Ghana in this respect.
2. We also recommend that individuals, corporate bodies, governmental and non-governmental agencies assist HelpLaw Ghana in recruiting personnel to strengthen its workforce.
3. Financial investment in the organization is key. This is chiefly because the recommendations made can largely be attained by the availability of funds.
4. We also recommend that a HelpLaw Ghana Journal be published on quarterly basis to educate the public on their rights with respect to criminal justice and also make known the activities of HelpLaw Ghana.
We duly acknowledge Leitner Center for International Law and Justice for sponsoring this program. We alsoacknowledge Prof. Paolo Galizzi, through whom the sponsorship from the Leitner Centre was made possible. We are similarly grateful to Mr. Eric Delanyo Alifo for his tutelage throughout this period. He has kindly shared with us his deep knowledge of criminal law. He defied all odds to found HelpLaw Ghana and subsequently saw this internship program through. Quite interestingly, we acknowledge each other for being helpful workmates.
NAMES OF INTERNS:
1. Jacob Chakuri Biniti
2. Linus Dzatashie
3. Eunice Yayra Loh
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