The Supreme Court has in a unanimous decision ruled that weekends and public holidays are included in the 48-hour detention period the police have to hold a person without granting bail.
The outgoing Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, who presided over the panel comprising of Justices Julius Ansah, Anin Yeboah (Chief Justice nominee), Baffoe Bonnie, Sule Gbadegbe, A. A Benin, and Prof. Ashie Kotey held the view that 48 hours means 48 hours.
Some police personnel in Ghana have been accused of deliberately arresting a powerless prey a day or two before the weekend or a public holiday so they can keep the suspect for about four days before granting bail or producing him before a court.
The issue for decades generated heated discussions on various platforms. The issue was subsequently sent to court by a private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu, in September 2016.
But reading her final judgment as Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo said the portions of the Holidays Act that prevent access to justice was unconstitutional.
“A person who is arrested, restricted or detained (a) for the purpose of bringing him before a court in execution of an order of a court; or (b) upon reasonable suspicion of his having committed or being about to commit a criminal offence under the laws of Ghana, and who is not released, shall be brought before a court within forty-eight hours after the arrest, restriction or detention,” she read.
In view of the decision, officers who will have to work on such cases during weekends and holidays will also be paid overtime.
The ruling is expected to take effect in six months, within which period interest parties including the Ghana Police Service, would be updated on the new development.