The Right to a Fair Hearing

If you are charged with a crime, you have the right to be tried by a court within a reasonable time.

On April 19th 2004, the police arrested Emmanuel Mensah, who was involved in an assault against his landlord’s son Dixon Tamakloe. When arresting Mr. Mensah, the police found a review card from Accra Psychiatric hospital in his pocket because Mr. Mensah had spent two months there in 2002 in order to be treated for schizophrenia. Without further investigation, the officers assumed he was a current outpatient and sent him to the hospital.

After spending 3 days in the Psychiatric hospital, Mr. Mensah was testified to be fit to plead. He was sent to court for assault on April 22nd without any legal representation and was simply sent back to the hospital by the judge.

The Judicial Secretary requested for information on the case on February 28th 2011. In response the Medical Director of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, informed the Chief of Justice that Mr. Mensah was discharged in February 2007 and has only remained in custody as the court had not instructed any arrangements to release him. When consulting with HRAC in 2011, Mr. Mensah had already been detained at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital for seven years without trial.

This is an example of a person’s right to a fair hearing being violated. If you are charged with a crime, you have the right to be tried by a court within a reasonable time. Seven years without trial cannot be referred to as a reasonable amount of time. Normally a trial should be performed within weeks or months.