“Ghana’s prison is hell, one of the reasons being that it is totally hidden from society. No reference to what goes on outside its walls”. These were the words of Lawyer Anthony Akoto Ampaw, a Human rights lawyer, when the host of ‘the BBUM show’ on GTV, Kafui Dey posed the question “what do you think of Ghana’s prison system?”
Lawyer Akoto Ampaw who was part of the New Democratic Movement and a news editor at the time had been in prison for over two years in the PNDC era.
He said “we were the very first paper who stood firm and condemned the executions in 1979 and the murder of the judges and the army officer, the government of the day using its repressive tactics was not happy. They didn’t allow for the expression of rights, this and many others culminated into a collision. The consequences were that there was a public broadcast banning me from entering any public or educational institution, I was arrested a couple of times and detained twice one for three months on the second occasion a little over two years in Ussher Fort, James Fort, and Tamale prisons”.
He added that in the early 1980s the then Government banned his entry into public schools because he had made some comments on the new educational policy championed by the world bank, at a NUGS programme which the government was unhappy about.
Not too long after that he said he was invited to the Nima police station and after some months they did the first arrest, taking him, Kwesi Pratt, Kweku Baako, Ras Kugbehu, and another colleague. They were put in the various prisons across Ghana.
He said his worse days in prison were acts of brutality on prisoners and execution of prisoners. His good days he said he spent reading and polishing up his French, which he felt was an important asset. The second time he was arrested he said he spent a little over 2 years in prison with colleague media practitioners.
The Lawyer who has fought for justice for wrongfully accused Journalists in other African countries added that one of the marks of a civilized society is how they treat their prisoners, which for him is terrible.
He said the political class seems to care less about prison reforms and that It all depends on the will of the people of Ghana.
Lawyer Ampaw intimated that Ghanaians have allowed two political parties to dominate every sphere of their lives.
“The trajectory seems to be going downwards until people learn to demand their rights in an organized fashion, to make our parties accountable to the people of Ghana. I do not see in the immediate or near future internal reforms in political parties who have become self-aggrandizement” Lawyer Akoto Ampaw said.
Speaking on transparency and accountability in governance, he said the manner in which the parties are financed and funded is worrisome, adding that it is part of a political elite consensus and the Electoral Commission (EC) has failed in this regard.
He urged Ghanaians to demand better governance.