Events leading to what appears to be a life sentence to the Accra Psychiatric Hospital on September 19, 2001 are still fresh in his mind as he recounted the incident that led to the death of his father that subsequently landed him at the facility.
Some 15 years on, James Fiadoko is still at the Special Ward of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital waiting to have his day in court; but as it appears that will not happen anytime soon, as the prosecutor who committed him to the facility on the orders of the court has since abandoned the case.
Recounting the incident that landed him court, Fiadoko said his father had in the morning of the incident taken him (Fiadoko) to the hospital for a check-up where he was given some medication. Upon reaching home; his father insisted he took another dose of his medication which he grudgingly obliged.
“ I took it and slept, but while I was sleeping , I felt someone was strangling me and wanting to split my throat so I pushed the person so hard only to realize that it was my father who hit his head on the cement floor and died in the process,” he said.
Before he was committed to the facility, Fiadoko had a wife and two children.
He said information reaching him indicates that his elder son has a baby girl but he has not as yet set an eye on his grandson.
“I have been taken away from my wife and children now I hear my son has given birth to a girl but I have not set eyes on my grandchild. That’s my blood, I hear she is called Emefa and I am yearning to see her”, he said frustratingly.
He indicated that initially his wife and children were paying him regular visit at the facility but stopped along the line, now they don’t visit any longer.
“Since 2003 their visits have been curtailed”, he said
He told Weekend Finder his wife has since found a new love and has abandoned him to his fate.
“I was not bred in a hospital, and so I want to go home”, Fiadoko pleaded
Fiadoko is not alone in this situation as many others are virtually serving a life sentence at the Accra Psychiatric for crimes they were alleged to have committed but were suspected to be unstable mentally to stand trial.
The Special Ward of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital as at noon Monday, June 15, 2015 had 116 patients of which 89 are cases referred and abandoned by a court for various offenses ranging from murder, drug related crimes and minor cases such as assault and petty thievery.
The longest serving ‘inmate’ at the facility , whose name was only given as Vovonu, by authorities at the hospital, was committed to the facility way back in 1998 when he was just in his early 20s for alleged murder. He is now in his early 60s having spent over 35- years at the psychiatric home waiting for a final determination of his case by the court that put him there.
Vovonu now works as a pantry hand at the hospital and unwilling to return home for fear that his family might not accept him.
Died waiting for justice
Another ,whose name was given as Kwabena Kumah an ex-police officer who was standing trial for alleged murder but was referred to the psychiatric Hospital for mental examination lived all his youthful life at the facility and died last year in his late 70s.
Kwabena Kumah according to the In-Charge at the Special Ward Robert Gyedu-Amakye was sought psychiatric treatment when he was just 18-years. He recovered fully and latter gained admission into the Police Service during the Kwame Nkrumah administration in the 60s.
He was arrested and taken to court for alleged murder. He was subsequently committed to the Accra Psychiatric Hospital for mental examination but his case was never recalled by the court and he spend all his years at the hospital until he taken for a hernia surgery last year where he passed on.
How cases end up at the Special Ward
The In-Charge at the Special Ward, Robert Gyedu-Amakye explained that often people who have history of mental illness and are standing trail for criminal offenses are mostly referred to the facility for examination.
He emphasized that at the hospital, these people are treated as patients and not criminal but noted that sadly, the prosecutors do not recall their cases and they end up spending years at the facility awaiting trial. He said that in most of the cases, the crime officers following the cases are transferred or the dockets of the suspects get missing and that ends the case.
He added some people also fain mental illness and are committed to the facility only to use it as a conduit to escape trail.
Human rights implications
The 1992 constitution propounds the fundamental Human Rights and Freedom of every one.
Article 14(1) of the Constitution provides that every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of his personal liberty except in some exceptional cases and these are done in accordance with procedure permitted by law.
Human rights lawyer, Francis-Xavier Sosu says it is an infringement on the basic right of all persons who have been held at the facility for “unreasonably” long period without trial.
According to him, all those on remand at the psychiatric Hospital are all subject to the 1992 constitution and the provisions of article 19 which provides fair trial for all and Article 14 which provides rights to personal liberty.
He noted that in the event that the person is held for an unreasonably long period and trail delays without prejudice to any further proceedings that could be taken against the suspect, the court would have to release them either conditionally or unconditionally”
“So persons who are there for this long period without their cases being heard and their remand warrant expiring are persons who are entitled as a matter of law to be released”, he said
He however noted that procedurally, there would be a need for an application to be brought for and on behalf of the inmates at the high court or the human rights court for such orders of discharge to be carried out.
He noted some of these cases are clear examples of systemic failures in the country’s justice system which needs to be addressed.
Source: The Finder
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