Ghana Prisons Council Discuss Prisons with New U.S. Ambassador to Ghana

From L to R, Sup Charles Ameyaw (Secretary to Council), Solomon Appiah (Council Member – President’s Nominee), Mr Emmanuel Yao Adzator (Acting Director General of Prisons Service), Nana Baffour Okumanin (Prisons Council – President’s Nominee ), Ambassador Robert Porter Jackson (US Ambassador to Ghana), Rev. Dr. Stephen Wengam (Chairman of Prisons Council), Dr. Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong (Council Member representing religious bodies), Dr. Kwabena Opoku-Adusei (Council Member representing Ghana Medical Association), Mr Samuel Amankwah (Council Member representing Ministry of the Interior) and Director of Prisons LKA Ansah (Council Member representing superior officers)

Robert Porter Jackson was sworn in November 30, 2015 as President Obama’s new U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana—taking over from Gene A. Cretz—after the U.S. Senate confirmed Ambassador Jackson’s nomination on October 22, 2015.

The 6th Ghana Prisons Service Council led by Rev. Dr. Stephen Wengam paid a courtesy call on him & his outfit to discuss amongst other issues Project Efiase, corrections reform, rehabilitation and public safety on February 26, 2016. The Council had paid a courtesy call on his predecessor as well. The fruit of discussions thus far include donation of sewing machines received from the Embassy in 2015 and capacity building courses in Colorado and Florida for senior and middle level managers of the Ghana Prisons Service in 2015 and 2016.

Ghana has for decades enjoyed a measure of peace, stability and public safety. This is the reason many international organizations locate their African headquarters in Ghana. But that reality seems to be in danger of being jeopardized with the steady increase of crime in recent years. Recently an ex-convict murdered a member of parliament. This is unprecedented in Ghana’s history. Part of the reason for the increase in ex-convict related crime is that, due to a lack of resources, instead of rehabilitating inmates, some of Ghana’s prisons have become institutions of higher learning for criminal activities. Rehabilitation is hampered by several factors, some of which include inadequate classification of inmates for treatment, spatial challenges, and the lack of purpose built infrastructure for taking custody of various categories / classifications of prisoners. Remand inmates (pre-trial) are sometimes lumped together with convicted criminals. The Service also lacks workshops etc for training activities. Tackling the issue of rehabilitation will undoubtedly impact favorably on public safety but this is expensive and the government though trying its best cannot do it alone hence the need for Project Efiase. This and many other pertinent issues were discussed with the newly appointed ambassador who has an impressive resume summarized in the next section.

At his swearing-in ceremony, the ambassador had the following to say about his new posting to Ghana. As per a Press Release from the U.S. Embassy Ghana,

[My wife] Babs and I are excited about moving to Ghana, one of the leading democracies on the African continent, with active political parties and civil society organizations, a lively media, a history of peaceful political transitions, an apolitical military, and a good human rights record.

As Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana, I intend to build on what I have learned over the last 33 years … about building partnerships. My priorities will be to promote strong institutions, good governance, peace, trade, education, and health, unlocking Ghana’s potential for sustained, inclusive, broad-based economic growth and helping it graduate from traditional development assistance.

Three years from now … I trust we will say that the relationship is stronger than ever and that together the United States of America and the Republic of Ghana have each benefited from our friendship, commerce, engagement and exchanges”.

Prior Appointments

His former portfolio includes:

  • U.S. Department of State’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs since October 2013.
  • Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon – 2010 to 2013
  • Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Rabat, Morocco
  • Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Dakar, Senegal
  • Political/Economic Counselor, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire
  • Political-Military Officer, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Chief of the Political Section, Harare, Zimbabwe
  • Political/Economic Officer in Bujumbura, Burundi
  • Consular/Economic Officer in Montreal, Canada

Other Appointments

Director of the Office for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy

Country Officer for Zimbabwe, Botswana and Nigeria

Coordinator of the Entry-Level Officer Training Program and Deputy Director of the Orientation Division at the Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute.

As per the press release, Ambassador Jackson earned his M.S. in National Resource Strategy from National Defense University, his M.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and his B.A. in Government and Legal Studies from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Ambassador Jackson speaks French and Portuguese

Members of the Prisons Council meeting with former U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Gene A. Cretz
Members of the Prisons Council meeting with former U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Gene A. Cretz

Project Efiase & 2015 mid-year budget review

Finance Minister with HE John Dramani Mahama on historic presidential visit to Nsawam Priosn
Finance Minister with HE John Dramani Mahama on historic presidential visit to Nsawam Priosn


Under section 33, the minister made mention of Project Efiase. He stated:

Recall His Excellency’s visit to the Nsawam Prisons after participating in the Efiase Project. As he observed, it is another area of supreme humanitarian need that requires Government action. Every effort is being made by relevant MDAs to reprioritize expenditures to complement the promise of GH¢50 million assistance to enable us respond to these needs appropriately. Plans are also being put in place, including the alignment of IGFs and statutory funds to mitigate the risk of similar future disasters.

The Honourable minister forgot to qualify the President’s visit as historic—leading the way for the US President to do same on July 17 i.e. two full weeks AFTER President Mahama’s Nsawam Prison visit. But that aside, it is gratifying to note that Project Efiase was launched by H. E. John Dramani Mahama President of the Republic of Ghana under the auspices of the 6th Prisons Council. As the chair of the planning committee for this project, the above statement by our finance minister reassures my hope that this project well supported by government, the private sector as well as ordinary well meaning citizens … and also well implemented by the Prisons Service who will be guided by the 10-year strategic development plan, has the potential to transform the fortunes of inmates, officers and the Prisons Service as a whole—making it a beacon of correctional and reformational excellence within our globe.

His Excellency nailed it when he describes the need in our prisons as ‘supreme humanitarian’ and in need of action and it is good to know that every effort is being made and plans being put in place to galvanize tangible government support.

Full statement of the minster is available for download here: 2015-Mid-Year-Review-Speech-210715

Project Efiase: Improving Public Safety

Made in prisons by prisoners through Skills Devt prgrams
Made in prisons by prisoners through Skills Devt prgrams

By Solomon Appiah

Member, 6th Prisons Council

Chairman, Project Efiase Planning Committee


Twitter: @s_apiah

Efiase is the Akan word for Prison. Project Efiase is about bringing transformation to Ghana’s Prisons Service, educating the public about the current state of its prisons and sensitize the public about the importance of the Prisons Service to public safety. It is also about advocating to corporate entities that the Prisons Service is open to business via public Private Partnerships. Finally, Project Efiase is a fundraiser. All the above is needed to initiate transformation. It costs money to rehabilitate people so that when the re-enter society, they do not endanger public safety.

According to a June 2001 U.S. Department of Justice paper by Michael E. Smith via the National Institute of Justice, “public safety is best conceived as the condition of a place, at times when people in that place are justified in feeling free of threat to their persons and property.” Public safety is threatened when a society cannot adequately treat its offenders and they are released back into society worse than they entered the prisons. Treatment here is with regards to reformation and rehabilitation.

As part of the nation’s Criminal Justice System, the role of a well functioning Prisons Service in the maintenance of public safety cannot be over-emphasized. The Service does not only take safe custody of convicted persons but also persons awaiting trial—some of these having to spend multiple years on remand. By the time some of these have been released they have picked up negative skills to the detriment of ordinary peace loving Ghanaians.

To adequately reform, there is need for adequate and suitable infrastructure, skills development machines and training for officers. On the infrastructure front, the reason why there is need for purpose built spacious prisons include the fact that when a person is delivered to the Prisons Service by a court of competent jurisdiction, prison officers must assess this person, classify them and then take safe custody of them based on their classification so they can be assigned suitable types and levels of treatment. But this is not currently the case.

In 1850, there were prisons cells in some four forts, holding a maximum of 129 prisoners. By 1948, there were twenty-nine prison establishments all over the country. Today there are 43 prisons around the nation. Of this number, only 3 prisons were purposely built as prisons. The other 40 were inherited from business or government entities—many dating back to colonial times.

The Yeji Prison used to be an abandoned clinic. The Winneba Prison was formerly a warehouse of a business concern dating back to colonial times. The Koforidua Prison used to be an armory in colonial times. The Kumasi Prison was built in 1946. The Prisons at Kenyasi and Dua Yaw N’kwanta were given to the Prisons Service by the Ministry of Agriculture. The gift of land at Kenyasi came with a solitary structure which the Service had to secure and eventually expand to house prisoners. Some of our prisons are even built of mud. The fact that many prisons were not originally meant for this purpose is also contributory to the acute congestion challenge in our prisons. The infrastructural deficit is a perennial challenge that spans various government Administrations since independence and limits successful classification and treatment programmes aimed at reformation and rehabilitation. It is only when prisoners are rehabilitated that they cease to be a threat to public safety upon their release from incarceration.

The government has given lots of Ghana Cedis towards the completion of Ghana’s first and only maximum security prison as well as helping to refurbish many other prison establishments around the country but government alone cannot solve all the challenges which bedevil the Service and has been compounding since colonial times from one administration to another—hence the need for Project Efiase which is the Prison’s Council’s attempt to reach out to the private sector as well as other well meaning Ghanaians to support Ghana’s Prisons administration.

Inmates for a long while used to be fed on GHc0.80 for breakfast, lunch and supper. This sum included the contractor’s profit margin. The current government administration has tripled this amount. It has also given the Service ambulances for their work.

But even with all the assistance the service receives from government, there is still much need.

Many of the Service’s workshops which if fully functional could aid in reform through skills training are stocked with machinery inherited from the colonial times. Because of insufficient space and dietary requirements, prisons have become incubators of diseases.

Though the Prisons Service are custodians of much land, they are handicapped to use much of it for agriculture or other useful gain because of the lack of irrigation, farming implements, machinery and storage facilities needed for large scale faming. Transportation to ferry prisoners to these lands and back to their cells is also lacking.

With the human resource at its disposal, if properly resourced, the Prisons Service could make a noticeable contribution to Ghana’s agriculture and economy.

So what again is Project Efiase?

It is the Prisons Service Council’s outreach to society in general to assist with making Ghana’s prisons centers for reformation, rehabilitation and productivity—not just incapacitation, deterrence and retribution. Project Efiase is not a one-time event but hopefully a lifetime project that will see immense change in Ghana’s Prison Service.

The former are much better for a nation’s internal security and public safety.

The Service has developed a 10-year strategic plan for the transformation and it aims to support this plan by generating funds to implement the plan.

The Prisons Service Council appeals to corporations and citizens alike to give financially to Project Efiase. Kitiwa bia nsua, loosely translated ‘No amount is too little’. Large donations are also welcome.

If corporations and persons may not be able to give donations but can give work contracts to the Prisons Service, this is also welcome. The Service builds excellent structures. It has architects, surveyors, masons etc. Some structures built by the Prison Service include the Prisons Officers Mess, School blocks as well as the parade grounds at the Senior Corrections Center. It also builds furniture, sews uniforms and smocks, weaves Kente, makes sandals, shoes, handbags and moulds pottery to mention a few.

Low risk inmates can be hired out for manual labour and cleaning exercises under the guard of officers.

Visit the Prisons headquarters or our prisons establishments to see firsthand what the Service is capable of. See sample below. What the Service lacks is opportunity and that’s why the Prisons Council is soliciting your assistance. Help us make a difference! Help us make Ghana a much safer society.

Project Efiase: Funding Rehabilitation for a Better Future

19361804236_f3b8927722_oThe challenges facing the Prisons Service are varied. Many are interlinked and will require money to solve. Fortunately for the present Prisons Council, its predecessors and the Prisons Service Directorate have done a good job of identifying these challenges, and going a step further to come up with a 10-year Strategic Development Plan to resolve them. In a spirit of continuity, the present Prisons Service Council under the Chairmanship of Rev. Dr. Stephen Wengam has taken upon itself the task to help fund the implementation of the 10-year Strategic Development Plan. To do this, the Council launched Project Efiase on June 30, 2015 at the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Project Efiase is an advocacy drive showing Ghanaians the plight of the prisoners and officers. It is also an invitation to the corporate world that Ghana’s prisons are willing to engage in public private partnerships. It is also a fundraiser targeting ordinary Ghanaians and corporate Ghana soliciting their assistance in the transformation of Ghana’s prisons. But why should ordinary Ghanaians help? What do they stand to benefit by supporting Project Efiase? Are our prisons not government’s responsibility? What is it doing about the challenges facing prisons?

This article will address these questions and more but first let us address the following. Why do we imprison people in the first place and what type of persons end up in Ghana’s prisons?

Why do we imprison people?

A nation can rise or fall based on the state of its prisons system.

People are sentenced to prison for four basic reasons according to Connie Clem. The first is incapacitation which is “the concept that putting an offender in a secure facility prevents him/her from victimizing the public again”. The second is deterrence which refers to “the concept that knowing that someone else was punished for a crime will make another person less likely to commit the same crime”. The third reason why we imprison people is retribution and refers to the “concept that an offender who serves time is paying society back for the harm done in the crime”. The fourth and final reason is rehabilitation which refers to “the concept of providing treatment (such as addiction treatment) and programs (such as education and job skills training) to boost the likelihood that an inmate will not return to crime when he or she is released back to the community”.

Rehabilitation has the highest usefulness to society. It treats and reorients the offender in such a way that it reduces the likelihood of them returning to a life of crime when released. In Ghana though, we have a history since colonial times of funding anything but rehabilitation. The system and limitations of physical structures are such that it makes treatment via rehabilitation difficult.

Rehabilitation though initially costly financially speaking, is in the long run cheaper financially and socially—and much safer for society at large. The other 3 only serve to further harden convicts who invariably return to a life of crime after being released. These folks feel they have nothing to lose so they are usually more dangerous when they re-offend. Furthermore when ex-convicts reoffend, the state will again have to bear the burden of their feeding, clothing and housing. It is therefore in society’s best interest to shift from funding solely retribution to funding reform and rehabilitation.

Who ends up in Ghana’s prisons? The simple answer is anyone. It houses both convicts and people awaiting their day in court for crimes they may or may not have committed.

Why is it difficult to reform Prisoners in Ghana?

Lack of funding, poor infrastructure, lack of space, lack of tools for skills development implementation programs for prisoners, lack of training for officers, are all reasons why reformation and rehabilitation in Ghana’s prisons is difficult.

For starters, infrastructure is a huge challenge. The Prisons Service has 45 establishments or buildings—43 of which serve as prisons. Of the 43, only 3 were built for the purpose of serving as prisons by the Ghana government. Of the 3, one is still in the process of being constructed, that is Ghana’s only maximum security prison. The other 40 were not originally built as prisons.

The Yeji Prison used to be an abandoned clinic. The Winneba Prison was formerly a warehouse of a business concern dating back to colonial times. The Koforidua Prison used to be an armory in colonial times. The Kumasi Prison was built in 1946. The Prisons at Kenyasi and Dua Yaw N’kwanta were given to the Prisons Service by the Ministry of Agriculture. The gift of land at Kenyasi came with a solitary structure which the Prisons Service had to secure and eventually expand to house prisoners. Some of Ghana’s prisons are even built of mud. The fact that many prisons were not originally built for this purpose is contributory to the acute congestion challenge in the prisons. The infrastructural deficit is a perennial challenge that spans various government Administrations all the way to independence era and limits successful classification and treatment programmes e.g. reformation and rehabilitation programmes.

Another reason why it is difficult to reform prisoners is lack of training and tools for officers. The machines in some of our prisons workshops which are supposed to be used to give inmates skills date back to the colonial era.

How about all the land that the Prisons Service has access to? Can they not be farmed and proceeds sold to generate funding for the Service? It’s a great idea however there are some hindrances to implementation.

Though the Prisons Service does have an Agricultural Division that does undertake farming activities in various locations around the country on about 1,000 acres of land combined, it has difficulty doing more than this for a number of reasons. Many of Ghana’s prisons are not in close proximity to the lands they could use for farming. Vehicles are needed to convey prisoners to these lands and back but the Prisons service currently suffers from a severe lack of vehicles. Even if the vehicles were available, prison officers at present are not given guns. With no firearms, it is not wise to take a bus load of prisoners to a wide acreage of land for farming. Farming on a large scale requires tractors and other farming machinery as well as irrigation equipment that reduces dependency on erratic rainfall. The Prisons Service is bereft of these. Assuming all the aforementioned challenges are met and the Prisons Service were able to farm thousands of acres and had a bumper harvest from its Agricultural endeavors, what would it do with surplus produce after selling some and using some to cook for inmates and officers and their families? The vast majority would probably rot. Another more nuanced challenge is feeding. At present, prisoners are fed on GHc1.80 for breakfast, lunch and supper. This includes the contractor’s profit margin. The kind of meal to be provided by such a sum is hardly energy giving enough to expect prisoners to work on large acreage of land.

Notwithstanding all the above mentioned limitations, the Prisons Service has done a commendable job of farming close to 1,000 acres.

Where is Government in all of this?

Are the prisons the responsibility of government? The answer is YES! Does government assist the work of the Prisons Service? The answer is YES again. How so?

First of all, the monies used to take care of the entire Prisons Service and inmates come entirely from government coffers.

Not too long ago, the feeding rate given by government to the service to feed inmates was GHc0.60. The present government administration has tripled the feeding rate of inmates.

Government through GETFund has provided for the building of school blocks for inmates interested in the SSCE examinations. The Wa block is complete while the one at Nsawam is 85 percent complete. Last year the inmates who sat for SSCE had a 100 percent pass rate. They sat for these exams under the Centre for National Distance Learning and Open Schooling (CENDLOS) an initiative of government which provides learning opportunities to increase access to education at all levels.

Government has provided ICT Centres in all the Central Prisons in Ghana for inmates to upgrade their ICT skills. Government through National Security donated money for the Bawku prison. There are plans to build a new prison at Bolgatanga. Through a collaboration with the Ghana government, the British High Commission gave a grant of GBP485,000 to the Ghana Prisons Service. Some of this grant has been used to buy two buses, renovate parts of the Nsawam Medium Security Prison as well as refurbish a building into a court near the Nsawam prison facility.

What else is government doing? The 1992 Constitution states that there should be a parole system which up until now has not been implemented. The current government administration is working on doing this as well as working on the possibility of introducing non-custodial sentencing as part of our legal system. This will go a long way to reducing the congestion in the prisons. The Government is also reviewing the Prisons Act.

Furthermore, the President has pledged his support for Project Efiase, an initiative of the Prisons Council. He has promised to top up whatever amount of money is raised via this project.

He has also promised to visit the prisons with the Council—making him the first sitting president to do so—to acclimatize himself with the conditions firsthand.

In summary, the government is working to improve conditions in Ghana’s prisons but the challenges span different administrations and have accumulated sine colonial times. Government alone cannot solve all the perennial challenges of the Prisons Service hence the need for Project Efiase.

The Way forward – Project EfiasePRISONS PRESS_CMYK

Project Efiase is a fund raising project—the Prisons Service Council’s outreach to ordinary Ghanaians to assist with making Ghana’s prisons centers for reformation, rehabilitation and productivity—not just incapacitation, deterrence and retribution.

Government is doing is part. Efiase is a call to the ordinary Ghanaian and corporate Ghana to also support this national security agency that forms such a significant part of Ghana’s Criminal Justice System.

The population of Ghana is estimated to be about 24 million people. Assuming 18 million of us decided to give GHc1 per month towards Project Efiase, that would still be insufficient to meet the total infrastructural, transportation, health, feeding and skills training needs of the Prisons Service but it would be a good starting point.

Together, let’s move from purely deterrence, incapacitation and retribution to reformation and rehabilitation. The latter will lead to a safer, more prosperous Ghana.

Professor Emmanuel Asante: Service to the Prisoner Is Service to Jesus

At the Induction Service of the 6th Prisons Council of Ghana, the third presiding bishop of the Methodist church, Most Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante had the following words of admonition for the Council Members:


On this great Sunday when we have gathered to induct into office the distinguished members of the Ghana Prison Council, I would like to do a reflection on the theme: Service to the Prisoner is Service to Jesus. To provide a biblical grounding to this theme, I would like to begin with the following abridged version of a story, which a friend posted to me:

A lady received an EMS letter, the signatory of which letter was Jesus. The content indicated that Jesus was going to be in her neighbourhood on a Saturday afternoon and would like to pay the lady a visit.

Her hands shaking and wondering why Jesus would want to visit her since she was a nobody special and had nothing to offer, she made feverish preparation with the little she had in expectation of her august visitor. She prepared a turkey sandwich and got ready in anticipation of her visitor.

A few minutes after she heard a knock at her door. Her heart leapt and she ran to open the door. To her dismay stood in front of the door a man and a woman shabbily dressed in a little more than rags. “Please lady I am unemployed and so is my wife. We have been on the streets. We are hungry. Can you give us something to eat? They were dirty; they smelled bad and appeared like people who had done some terms in prison. It even seemed like they were on drugs.

The lady answered the couple: “”I would like to help you, but I’m a poor woman. All I have I have reserved for an important visitor.” The man said to the woman: “Yeah, well lady I understand. Thanks anyway.” The couple turned and headed back to the street. As the woman watched them go, she felt disturbed in her spirit. So she said to them: “Please wait.” They turned and the woman gave them the turkey sandwich she had prepared for Her august visitor, Jesus. As she was thinking about what she would do when her august visitor arrived, the postman came again with another mail. The content read: “Thanks for the turkey sandwich. You were a blessing to me when I visited.” Signed Jesus.

Beloved this story brings us to the message of our Gospel reading this morning: Mt. 25: 31-40. Beloved the message is that it is as we serve the poor, the sick, the needy, and the outcasts and incarcerated, the prisoner that we serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of us are waiting for Jesus to appear to do service to him. Well Jesus is in the hospitals; He is on the streets. Beloved Jesus is in our various prisons. As you serve the prisoners you serve Jesus. It means that we must serve our prisoners as we would serve the Lord if He were here with us.

The State of our Prisoners

Often people go into prison with many concerns about home and family and about their own future. Many have fears about what the Prison holds for them, whether they can survive or if there is any future for them after they had done their terms and had been released from the prison custody.

It has been observed by David Blunkett that the vast majority of offenders are in jail because they have been exploited in one way or another. Many are in prison today because they were exploited by the powerful in relation to the drug trade. Some are there as they struggled to simply survive in our highly competitive, harsh and unfriendly world. Many are poor, homeless and hopeless. Others are rootless and many unemployed. A large number suffer from some form of mental illness. Others feel that they have no stake in society and owe it nothing.

Young Offenders

The numbers of young offenders in our prisons are growing. These feel abandoned, have a sense of hopelessness and are dangerous both in Prison and outside.

Increasingly, the majority of those in prison custody “are poor; not simply economically but morally, spiritually, culturally, educationally and socially.” These have needs, which cannot be met by our present system.

I do not know how much it costs to keep a person in prison for just a week. I do believe, however, that imprisonment is an “expensive way of making people worse.” Many in prison will lose their jobs, accommodation or family as a result of doing a time in prison. The economic, social and psychological cost to those who are imprisoned cannot be measured in quantitative terms. Many who have done terms in prison loose their self-worth. The fact is that our present system lacks the capacity to meet the needs of those most impacted by crime. The alternative is Restorative justice as opposed to the Retributive justice.

Restorative Justice

Methodist Church Presiding Bishop Prof. Emmanuel Asante and Chief Justice
Methodist Church Presiding Bishop Prof. Emmanuel Asante and Chief Justice

Restorative justice works from the premise that crimes are to be viewed and considered less as violations against the State and more as violations against people. From the perspective of restorative justice, the important question is not “Who is to blame?’ but “How can we make things right for all concerned, the offender and the offended?” How can we make things right for people who have been seriously violated or for an offender who feels no sense of shame, guilt or responsibility? The criminal justice system centres on making sure that offenders are getting what they deserve. Restorative justice focuses on the needs of the offended, offenders and the community. It emphasizes the importance of participation by all who have been most impacted by the offence and gives all opportunity and empowerment to help in the process of making things right.

Distinguished Council members, you have come at a time when serious issues have been raised about custodial sentences, a time when there is ‘a steadily escalating sense of foreboding’ in relation to the overcrowding of our prisons. Have our prisons become Universities where inmates after doing terms become hardened criminals? Are we going to see strategic changes in our penal system? Are we going to see a prison system, which ensures that offenders are made fully aware of the damage they have caused individuals, themselves and families and friends and the community at large and that they are liable to repair the damage done? Are we going to have a system, which ensures that victims and offenders collectively resolve how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and its implications for the future?

Prison Officers

The work of the prison officer is not only demanding at every level but also very stressful. How do we address the emotional and psychological needs of our prison officers? And how do we build the capacities of the prison officers to ensure effective management of our prisons? Members of Council yours is a call to bring into being a new system of prison that will emphasize restorative justice. Our prison must not be places of incarceration but centers of restoration. This will call for a new Council with a strategic vision to provide transformative leadership to the Service; prison officers who are well-trained specialists and have the capacity to give restorative care service to the prison inmates. When our prisons go through such transformation, when they become Centres of restoration, service to the prisoner, which is service to Jesus Christ, would become a reality. Beloved, there can be no “shalom” in the sense of peace, justice and well being without the restoration of social, physical, and moral justice. It means that peace and justice are possible only when we care for one another, even in wrongdoing. Service to the prisoner is service to Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved let me draw your attention to this cardinal truth: Authentic transformation or restoration is possible only in Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus came to set those who are in bondage to sin and evil free. We cannot bring restoration to our inmates without the intervention of God. In the letter to the Ephesians Chapter Two we read that before our experience of the gracious transformation of life in Christ, we were dead in transgressions and sins, in which also we used to live. We followed the ways of this world controlled by evil forces. We gratified the cravings of our sinful nature and followed its desires and thoughts. We were by nature objects of God’s wrath; we were enemies of God and friends of Satan, the evil one. But because of God’s great love for us, God who is rich in mercy and full of grace made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions and sins and saved us. God did all these for us so that we might engage in good works. The message here is that through transformation, authentic restoration is possible in Christ Jesus. Even though salvation is not based on our own good works; that we are saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ. Faith in Christ transforms the believer’s life and disposes him or her to good works. Empirical points to the fact that hardened criminals have experienced transformation for the better through religious encounters. Faith in Christ Jesus can make a difference in our lives. The good works Christians do are the result and consequence of our salvation, which is God’s new creation work through the redemptive work of Christ Jesus. In our management of the prison service, let us place God at the centre.

6th Prisons Service Council Inaugurated

The video is the Induction Service of the newly inaugurated Prisons Service Council.

Mr. Solomon Appiah has been nominated by the President of Ghana to serve on the 6th Prisons Council. The 13-member Prisons Council is chaired by Rev. Dr. Stephen Wengan whom together with Nana Baffour Okumanin and Mr. Appiah are nominees of the President of Ghana.

Other members of the Council are Mr. Samuel Amankwah from the Ministry of the Interior, Ms. Matilda Baffour –Awuah Director General of Prisons, Mr. Dominic Ayine Attorney General’s Department, Mr. Amoako Adjei Ghana Bar Association, Mr. Sampson Nii Trebi, Nana Daasebre Kwebu Ewusi VII of the National House of Chiefs, Mr. Leopold K. A. Ansah, Mr Salisu Aduna, Dr. Kwabena Opoku-Adusei and Mr. Benson Tongo Baba.

The 1992 Constitution provides that, there shall be established a Prisons Service Council which shall consist of:

(a) the Vice-President, who shall be chairman;

(b) the Minister responsible for internal affairs;

(c) the Director-General of the Prisons Service;

(d) a medical practitioner nominated by the Ghana Medical Association;

(e) a lawyer nominated by the Ghana Bar Association;

(f) the Attorney-General or his representative;

(g) a representative of the Ministry of or department of state responsible for social welfare;

(h) a representative of such religious bodies as the President may, in consultation with the Council of State, appoint;

(i) two members of the Prisons Service appointed by the President in consultation with the Council of State one of whom shall be of a junior rank;

(j) a representative of the National House of Chiefs; and

(k) two other members appointed by the President.

The Prisons Service Council shall advise the President on matters of policy relating to the organisation and maintenance of the prison system in Ghana including the role of the Prisons Service, prisons budgeting and finance, administration and the promotion of officers above the rank of Assistant Director of Prisons.

The Prisons Service Council may, with the prior approval of the President, by constitutional instrument, make regulations for the performance of its functions under this Constitution or any other law and for the effective and efficient administration of prisons and the Prisons Service.

Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the power to appoint persons to hold or to act in an office in the Prisons Service shall vest in the President, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prisons Service Council.

Economic Growth and Development

Africa will celebrate 52 years of regionalism on 25 May 2015. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) was set up to “safeguard and consolidate the hard-won Independence as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our states, and to fight against neo-colonialism in all its forms” as stated in the preamble of the OAU Charter.

The African Union (AU) on the other hand appears to be a different strain of Pan-Africanism—one which no doubt has roots in the OAU but not in a fight against colonialism but rather with a goal to develop African states politically and socio-economically.

We see this in the preamble of the African Union Constitutive Act which states that the AU is:

…the scourge of conflicts in Africa constitutes a major impediment to the socio-economic development of the continent and of the need to promote peace, security and stability as a prerequisite for the implementation of our development and integration agenda

Common Denominator—Development

Regardless of differences between objectives of the OAU and AU, both have one common motivation and devotion—Improved development of the continent. For the OAU, development could not materialize while still under the clutches of imperialism and colonialism.

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a summary measure published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) of key dimensions of development namely:

  • long and healthy life
  • access to knowledge and
  • decent standard of living

It’s one way to measure how well a people are doing. The dimensions are as follows:


The 2013 Africa Progress Report gives a sobering summary of human development on the continent thus far. This is aptly captured in a number of the infographics contained in the report. The one I wish to consider is the one captured in the header.

The Problem

This graphic focused on 20 sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries identified by the IMF as resource intensive. Together they account for about 56 per cent of the region’s population and around 79.6 per cent its GDP. This region according to the World Bank’s Africa’s Pulse Volume 7, sub-Saharan African countries have been growing at a steady pace for years—driven in part by the extractives sector.

As one report put it, “On one estimate, extractive industries have accounted for around one-third of regional GDP growth over the past decade – more than transport, telecommunications and manufacturing combined.”

The challenge is there exists a wide gap between economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa and human development. The wealth rank of an overwhelming majority of this resource rich SSA countries are way higher than their HDI rank meaning the wealth or growth is not translating into better human development for citizens.

The economic growth phenomenon in sub-Saharan Africa will not last forever. For that reason, while it lasts, it should be taken advantage of for the good of Africa.

Government is established amongst other things to devise fiscal policies that help redistribute income/wealth. Failure to do this will invariably lead to ever widening inequality—which has potential to increase violence and promote instability.

Critical Appraisal of Refuge Provided Julian Assange in Ecuadorian Embassy

In providing a critical appraisal of the refuge being provided Julian Assange, I will first talk about who Julian Assange is and how he ended up in the Ecuadorian Embassy. After this, the paper will take a look at what the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961 is—specifically how Article 41(3) of the convention relates to the subject under discussion. In addition to this, the presentation will look at what some other legal scholars have to say about the subject under discussion.


Who is Julian Assange?

Julian Assange is an Australian publisher, journalist, computer programmer, activist and whistleblower from Townsville, Queensland, Australia. In 2006, he and some friends founded Wikileaks where he worked as its editor-in-chief according to the Wikileaks website.

Wikileaks operated out of Sweden probably because of the country’s strict anonymity laws. Between 2006 and 2009, Mr. Assange and Wikileaks gained international notoriety for making public, very large amounts of previously confidential government and corporate information.

The most cited of the whistle blowing documents are the ones allegedly obtained from Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Edward Manning, a U.S. Army intelligence analyst). The documents included:

  • the Collateral Murder video (April 2010): This is the Baghdad airstrike video
  • the Afghanistan war logs (July 2010): This comprises 91,731 documents
  • the Iraq war logs (October 2010): This is made up of 391,832 classified military reports covering the period January 2004 to December 2009
  • over a quarter of a million diplomatic cables (November 2010)
  • the Guantánamo files (April 2011)

The U.S. understandable unhappy with the collateral damage caused by the leaks of the classified information opened investigations into Wikileaks and Julian Assange.

Why did Assange seek refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy?

Right about the time the U.S. opened investigations into Julian Assange, the Swedish government received complaints from two women who alleged that Julian Assange had sexually abused them.

Mr. Assange was in the UK when and European Arrest Warrant (EAW) was issued for his arrest so he could come and answer questions. The warrant listed four alleged offenses namely:

  • one count of unlawful coercion
  • two counts of sexual molestation
  • one count of lesser-degree rape (European Arrest Warrant Ref No. Am-131226-10, 2010)

Julian Assange refused to submit himself to the Swedish authorities and a debate soon ensued in the UK where he was at the time of the serving of the warrant. The UK was initially unsure if such a warrant could be served in the UK. Eventually the UK Supreme Court “…found that European prosecutors could issue extradition warrants in the UK without any judicial oversight, even though Parliament intended otherwise” (Ambos, 2012). It had been agreed that Assange would be extradited to Sweden. The UK court granted Julian Assange bail on December 16, 2010.

Assange took advantage of this, went to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to request “diplomatic protection of the Ecuadorian State, invoking the norms on political asylum in force (Statement of the Government of the Republic of Ecuador on the asylum request of Julian Assange , 2012). The Ecuadorian government granted this request citing among others Article 41 of the Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador which defines the right to grant asylum. The right to asylum is also enshrined in “Article 4.7 of the Organic Law of Foreign Service of 2006 of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Integration of Ecuador to know the cases of diplomatic asylum, according to the laws, the treaties, the rights and the international practice”.

Mr. Assange has been taking refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy for the past 2 years. At a cost to taxpayers of an estimated £6 million, the UK police have for this period been stationed around the embassy (Robinson, 2014).

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961

The United Nations Conference on Diplomatic Intercourse and Immunities took place in Vienna from 2 March to 14 April 1961. Eighty-one delegates took part of which, seventy-five were United Nations members. The convention was signed on 18 April, 1961 and entered into force on 24 April 1964 in accordance with article 51 (Denza, 2009).

As of the time of this writing, the convention has sixty Signatories and one hundred and ninety Parties.

The Convention describes the framework for establishing, maintaining and terminating diplomatic relations on a basis of consent between independent sovereign States. Article 22 states the inviolability of mission premises – which in Julian Assange’s case bars “any right of entry by law enforcement officers of the receiving State and imposing on the receiving State a special duty to protect the premises against intrusion, damage, disturbance of the peace or infringement of dignity” (Denza, 2009).

Article 41(3)

Article 41(3) states that:

The premises of the mission must not be used in any manner incompatible with the functions of the mission as laid down in the present Convention or by other rules of general international law or by any special agreements in force between the sending and the receiving State.

The functions of diplomatic missions are captured in Article 3:

  1. The functions of a diplomatic mission consist, inter alia, in:
    1. Representing the sending State in the receiving State;
    2. Protecting in the receiving State the interests of the sending State and of its nationals, within the limits permitted by international law;
    3. Negotiating with the Government of the receiving State;
    4. Ascertaining by all lawful means conditions and developments in the receiving State, and reporting thereon to the Government of the sending State;
    5. Promoting friendly relations between the sending State and the receiving State, and developing their economic, cultural and scientific relations.
  2. Nothing in the present Convention shall be construed as preventing the performance of consular functions by a diplomatic mission

Critical Appraisal

Diplomatic Protection

According to the Statement of the Government of the Republic of Ecuador on the asylum request of Julian Assange, “On June 19, 2012, the Australian citizen Julian Assange, showed up on the headquarters of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, with the purpose of requesting diplomatic protection of the Ecuadorian State, invoking the norms on political asylum in force. The requester has based his petition on the fear of an eventual political persecution of which he may be a victim in a third State, which can use his extradition to the Swedish Kingdom to obtain in turn the ulterior extradition to such country”.

As per the 2006 Draft Articles on Diplomatic Protection adopted by the International Law Commission at its fifty-eighth session, diplomatic protection is defined by Article 1 as “the invocation by a State, through diplomatic action or other means of peaceful settlement, of the responsibility of another State for an injury caused by an internationally wrongful act of that State to a natural or legal person that is a national of the former State with a view to the implementation of such responsibility”.

Article 3 (1) states that, “The State entitled to exercise diplomatic protection is the State of nationality”. Article 4 clarifies what is meant by state of nationality: “For the purposes of the diplomatic protection of a natural person, a State of nationality means a State whose nationality that person has acquired, in accordance with the law of that State, by birth, descent, naturalization, succession of States or in any other manner, not inconsistent with international law.”

Mr. Assange did not qualify for any of the above.

Article 5 (3) adds that “Diplomatic protection shall not be exercised by the present State of nationality in respect of a person against a former State of nationality of that person for an injury caused when that person was a national of the former State of nationality and not of the present State of nationality”.

Diplomatic protection is this extended to nationals (Article 3), corporations (Article 9), stateless persons and refugees (Articles 8).

Below is Article 8:

  1. A State may exercise diplomatic protection in respect of a stateless person who, at the date of injury and at the date of the official presentation of the claim, is lawfully and habitually resident in that State.
  2. A State may exercise diplomatic protection in respect of a person who is recognized as a refugee by that State, in accordance with internationally accepted standards, when that person, at the date of injury and at the date of the official presentation of the claim, is lawfully and habitually resident in that State.
  3. Paragraph 2 does not apply in respect of an injury caused by an internationally wrongful act of the State of nationality of the refugee.

Mr. Assange at the time of requesting for diplomatic protection was and is currently not a national, corporation, a stateless person but may be considered as a refugee. Refuge is not a concept of customary international law

The Convention relating to the Status of Refugees defines refugee as:

…any person who:

(1) Has been considered a refugee under the Arrangements of 12 May 1926 and 30 June 1928 or under the Conventions of 28 October 1933 and 10 February 1938, the Protocol of 14 September 1939 or the Constitution of the International Refugee Organization;

Decisions of non-eligibility taken by the International Refugee Organization during the period of its activities shall not prevent the status of refugee being accorded to persons who fulfil the conditions of paragraph 2 of this section;

(2) As a result of events occurring before 1 January 1951 and owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.

Mr. Assange could qualify as a refugee not because Australia was no longer hospitable to him but because he fears being persecuted for reasons of membership of a particular social group i.e. Wikipedia and for his political opinions. The questions that beg to be answered though are:

  1. Does this fear exonerate him from the criminal offences for which he has been alleged to commit?
  2. Does he have any substantial proof that Sweden will hand him over to the United States?
  3. To what extent can Ecuador infringe upon the judicial process of the receiving state while brazenly challenging its authority?

The same 1951 convention states in Article 1 (F)

The provisions of this Convention shall not apply to any person with respect to whom there are serious reasons for considering that:

(a) He has committed a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity, as defined in the international instruments drawn up to make provision in respect of such crimes;

(b) He has committed a serious non-political crime outside the country of refuge prior to his admission to that country as a refugee;

(c) He has been guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

The (b) is a valid argument for this convention not applying to Julian Assange if one were to use the argument that he committed non-political crime(s) i.e. the offenses stated in the European arrest warrant that Brittan was hindered by Ecuador form effecting.


The word “asylum” is said to be derived from the Latin equivalent of the Greek word “asylon,” which means freedom from seizure (Boed, 1994). Writing on “Asylum in International Law”, in the Encyclopedia Britannica, Professor George J. Andreopoulos differentiates 3 types of asylum:

Territorial asylum is granted within the territorial bounds of the state offering asylum and is an exception to the practice of extradition…

Extraterritorial asylum refers to asylum granted in embassies, legations, consulates, warships, and merchant vessels in foreign territory and is thus granted within the territory of the state from which protection is sought. Cases of extraterritorial asylum granted in embassies, legations, or consulates (generally known as diplomatic asylum) are often occasions for dispute. For example, after an unsuccessful uprising against the communist government of Hungary in 1956, the United States controversially granted diplomatic asylum to dissident Hungarian Roman Catholic József Cardinal Mindszenty, who was given refuge in the U.S. embassy and remained there for 15 years.

Neutral asylum is employed by states exercising neutrality during a war to offer asylum within its territory to troops of belligerent states, provided that the troops submit to internment for the duration of the war (Andreopoulos, 2014).

What has been granted Assage is thus Extraterritorial asylum.

The right to asylum has further been subdivided by Reed (1994) into 3:

  • the right of a state to grant asylum: This is taken from the principle that every sovereign state is deemed to ,have exclusive control over its territory and hence over persons present in its territory
  • the right of an individual to seek asylum: This comes from the principle that “a State may not claim to ‘own’ its nationals or residents.”
  • the right of an individual to be granted asylum: There is no general acceptance of this ‘right’ under international law

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) in Article 14 states that:

  1. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
  2. This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Diplomatic asylum can be said to be founded on this article.

The United Nations 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees regulates national legislation with respect to political asylum because these form the primary instruments for the protection of people seeking asylum and refugees.

The 1951 Convention provides a way for determining who qualifies for the legal status of refugees, and also stipulates that they are not returned to the countries they run away from where their lives might be in danger (refoule).

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 (ICCPR) is a treaty and provides in Article 26 that:

All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Article 2 of the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa which entered into force on June 20, 1974 also states:


  1. Member States of the OAU shall use their best endeavours consistent with their respective legislations to receive refugees and to secure the settlement of those refugees who, for well-founded reasons, are unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin or nationality.
  2. The grant of asylum to refugees is a peaceful and humanitarian act and shall not be regarded as an unfriendly act by any Member State.
  3. No person shall be subjected by a Member State to measures such as rejection at the frontier, return or expulsion, which would compel him to return to or remain in a territory where his life, physical integrity or liberty would be threatened for the reasons set out in Article I, paragraphs 1 and 2.
  4. Where a Member State finds difficulty in continuing to grant asylum to refugees, such Member State may appeal directly to other Member States and through the OAU, and such other Member States shall in the spirit of African solidarity and international cooperation take appropriate measures to lighten the burden of the Member State granting asylum.
  5. Where a refugee has not received the right to reside in any country of asylum, he may be granted temporary residence in any country of asylum in which he first presented himself as a refugee pending arrangement for his resettlement in accordance with the preceding paragraph.
  6. For reasons of security, countries of asylum shall, as far as possible, settle refugees at a reasonable distance from the frontier of their country of origin.

While the UNDHR makes room or can be stretched to include Extraterritorial asylum, it would seem the others cannot. They rather make clear a case for territorial asylum.

Historical Antecedents: The Case of József Mindszenty & Manuel Noriega

The Cardinal was critical of the pro-Nazi authorities under which he had served 8 years in prison even though he was the Prince Primate, and cardinal, and leader of the Catholic Church in Hungary. He was also critical of communism and so when the Soviet Union took power, he sought asylum from the U.S. Embassy in Budapest. It was granted and he ended up living there for 15 years.

In 1989, President Manuel Noriega was wanted by the US on several charges. He sought refuge in the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See which was granted by the Papal Nuncio in Panama.

In both cases, the church premises and embassy remained inviolable and the exit of the refuge seekers was only as a result on agreements arrived at by the different actors involved.

Diplomatic Asylum

The 22 September 1975, UN General Assembly, Question of Diplomatic Asylum: Report of the Secretary-General defines diplomatic asylum as follows:

The term “diplomatic asylum” in the broad sense is used to denote asylum granted by a State outside its territory, particularly in its diplomatic missions (diplomatic asylum in the strict sense), in its consulates, on board its ships in the territorial waters of another State (naval asylum), and also on board its aircraft and of its military or para-military installations in foreign territory. The other form of asylum granted to individuals, namely, that which is granted by the State within its borders, is generally given the name “territorial asylum” (UN General Assembly, 1975).

This report shows clearly how divided world leaders were almost 20 years after the 1951 convention on diplomatic asylum.

Elements of diplomatic asylum as granted to Assange can be summed up in the following according to Simona Leonavičiūtė:

  1. It is internal asylum;
  2. granted in diplomatic missions or consulates;
  3. in the territory of the receiving State;
  4. by the head of mission of the Sending State;
  5. for fugitives from the Receiving State;
  6. who are being sought mainly for political reasons

Again, Assange was not being sought by the UK or Sweden for political reasons. As of today, no charges as yet have been brought against him—only the offenses stated in the European Arrest warrant.

The term ‘diplomatic asylum’ has come under disputation by some scholars with regards to this particular case.

Curiously, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations does not expressly make mention of diplomatic asylum.

In the republic of Ecuador’s government’s detailed statement as to why they granted Assange refuge, the statement reads, “[F]aithful to its tradition to protect those who seek shelter in its territory or in the premises of its diplomatic missions, [The Government of Ecuaddor] has decided to grant diplomatic asylum to the citizen Julian Assange” (Statement of the Government of the Republic of Ecuador on the asylum request of Julian Assange , 2012).

A Professor of Public International Law at the University of Luxembourg and an associate tenant at 3 Hare Court, London, Matthew Happold has argued that the general use of the term “diplomatic asylum” in this peculiar case is flawed.

Recalling the Colombia v Perú [1950] ICJ 6 (also known as the Asylum Case) brought before the International Court of Justice, the leader of the Peruvian APRA movement sought protection in a Colombian Embassy in Lima. In this matter the International Court of Justice ruling` stated:

In the case of diplomatic asylum, the refugee is within the territory of the State where the offence was committed. A decision to grant diplomatic asylum involves derogation from the sovereignty of that State. It withdraws the offender from the jurisdiction of the territorial State and constitutes an intervention in matters which are exclusively within the competence of that State. Such a derogation from territorial sovereignty cannot be recognized unless its legal basis is established in each particular case.

The opinion suggests that where there is no treaty or customary rules to the contrary, if Ecuador for instance grants diplomatic asylum to Assange, this constitutes a derogation of the sovereignty of the receiving state i.e. the UK.

Here’s the court’s opinion citing a previous judgment:

…in principle, asylum cannot be opposed to the operation of justice. The safety which arises out of asylum cannot be construed as a protection against the regular application of the laws and against the jurisdiction of legally constituted tribunals. Protection thus understood would authorize the diplomatic agent to obstruct the application of the laws of the country, whereas it is his duty to respect them (HAYA DE LA TORRE CASE: Colombia v. Peru, 1951)

From the above judgment as well as on the basis of Article 41(3) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961), it is amply clear that a diplomatic mission is not supposed to generally concern itself with obstructing the operation of justice. Furthermore the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, demands that Ecuador’s government and mission respect the UK’s laws and regulations—not interfere with them—especially when it concerns the regular application of the laws and against the jurisdiction of legally constituted tribunals”—in this case the UK Supreme Court.

It is true that the offense was not committed in the UK. But it is also true that the UK was mandated to effect that warrant but were prohibited in doing so by the granting of diplomatic asylum.

Ambos (2012) differentiated between conventional asylum and diplomatic asylum. The latter according to him is misconceivved by the Ecuadorian Government. He argues that “despite repeated occurrence of such escapes to embassies – [it] is not acknowledged in international law”. And because it is not acknowledged in genera international law, “States are not required to grant safe passage out of their territory to those who seek asylum in diplomatic premises within their territory (unless there is a specific treaty which provides for such an obligation, which there is not in this case)” (Akande, 2012).

Ambo (2012) cites the ICJ in the aforementioned case of the Peruvian political figure Raúl Haya de la Torre making mention that, the ICJ “held that such kind of asylum can only be recognized if founded on explicit legal terms…This results from the fact that granting diplomatic asylum constitutes interference in the territorial state’s internal affairs” thus agreeing with the position held by Happold (2012).

Ambos (2012) adds, “For the sending state granting asylum would, as a consequence, deprive the receiving state jurisdiction over the fugitive. This essentially distinguishes diplomatic asylum from conventional asylum that is granted by a state to persons situated on its own territory” (Ambos, 2012).

Arguments against Ecuadorian Asylum to Assange

Article 41 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961) states:

  1. Without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the DUTY of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State. They also have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.
  2. The premises of the mission must not be used in any manner incompatible with the functions of the mission as laid down in the present Convention or by other rules of general international law or by any special agreements in force between the sending and the receiving State.

Article 3 (3) states that:

(e) Promoting friendly relations between the sending State and the receiving State, and developing their economic, cultural and scientific relations.

On the question, DOES INTERNATIONAL LAW PROHIBIT DIPLOMATIC ASYLUM?, Paul Behrens, in the Michigan Journal of International Law cites Article 41 (1) and and makes the following contribution:

While no article of the VCDR deals specifically with diplomatic asylum, the Convention does contain two norms in particular that have a direct and prima facie limiting effect on this practice. The first of them is the ban on interference itself; that norm is enshrined in the general provision on duties of diplomatic agents (Article 41(1) VCDR), which reads: “Without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State. They also have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.”

But the VCDR does not offer any clarification on the concept of interference, and it certainly does not dwell on the question of whether sheltering refugees on mission premises falls within its scope. The ICJ, too, has not been able to provide a detailed examination of this phenomenon. In the Asylum Case mentioned above, the court did not offer objective parameters for its rather general view that asylum is a form of “intervention.” All the same, the finding must count as one of the most explicit considerations of diplomatic interference by the ICJ (Behrens, 2014).

Diversion vis-à-vis facts and law

The Republic of Ecuador is in clear violation of Article 41(3) because it is clear that the Ecuadorian government is using its premises in a manner incompatible with the functions of the mission as laid down in the Convention. Nowhere in the functions of the mission is a mission granted GENERAL permission to harbor fugitives from the law of the receiving nation. Again nowhere in the functions is any mission granted a GENERAL permission to interrupt or interfere with legal proceedings within a receiving state. This is the case in Julian Assange’s saga. The Ecuadorian government interrupted with the administration of justice in both Sweden and the UK.

As has been noted by the Chair of Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Comparative Law and International Criminal Law at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen in Germany who also works as a Judge at the Provincial Court (Landgericht) of Lower Saxony in Göttingen, “Julian Assange’s medal-worthy self-staging as a militant for worldwide freedom of opinion has diverted attention away from the fact that the dispute over his extradition has nothing to do with Wikileaks, but rather with the enforcement of a European arrest warrant from November 2010” (Ambos, 2012).

Much emphasis is placed by the media and the Assange camp on Wikileaks and Assange’s involvement in making public of classified information but the fact is that, the European Arrest Warrant issued against Mr. Assange has absolutely nothing to do with his Wikileaks activities—but everything to do with the allegations leveled against him by two women in Sweden.

It is noteworthy that in “… the detailed explanation given by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (on 16 August 2012) for the granting of diplomatic asylum no mention is made of the actual accusations against Assange (Ambos, 2012).

What then is the Ecuadorian position for granting a fugitive from the law diplomatic asylum based on? Pure conjecture and political expediency it seems but not the facts of the warrant! In the detailed statement of the Government of the Republic of Ecuador explaining why Julian Assange was granted diplomatic asylum, none of the allegations of committing sexual offences were taken into consideration.

Professor Kai Ambos explains that “According to the fundamental principle of mutual recognition as basis of the European arrest warrant, such a warrant is to be enforced by the executing member state (in this case Great Britain) without any further ado” (Ambos, 2012). This means the UK is responsible for enforcing the warrant against Mr. Assange but they are hindered in doing so because of the interference by Ecuador.

To therefore obstruct the operation of justice in Sweden and the UK without considering the substance of the Warrant because of which Mr. Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden is a violation of the convention. Such diplomatic conduct is not part of the functions of the Ecuadorian mission as laid out in Article 3 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

In spite of Ecuador clearly flouting Article 41(3), it’s not justification for the UK not to adhere to Article 22 of the same Convention which states that:

  1. The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.
  2. The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity.
  3. The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.

As Professor Eileen Denza points out, to allow Ecuador to grant asylum to Assange in this case would be tantamount to “shooting a hole into the system of extradition”.

Professor of Public International Law at the University of Oxford, Dapo Akande has noted that, “It is fairly clear that Assange is not covered by Refugee Convention and is therefore not entitled to asylum as a matter of international law” (Akande, 2012).


Works Cited

Akande, D. (2012, August 17). The Julian Assange Affair: May the UK Terminate the Diplomatic Status of Ecuador’s Embassy? UPDATED. Retrieved November 20, 2014, from

Ambos, K. (2012, September 11). Diplomatic Asylum for Julian Assange? Retrieved Novenmber 19, 2014, from European Journal of Internaltional Law – ejiltalk:

Andreopoulos, G. J. (2014). Asylum. Retrieved November 24, 2014, from Encyclopedia Britannica :

Behrens, P. (2014). The Law of Diplomatic Asylum–a Contextual Approach (2014). Michigan Journal of International Law , 319-367.

Boed, R. (1994). The State of the Right of Asylum in International Law. Duke Journal of Comparative & International Law
, 5 (1), 1-34.

Denza, E. (2009). Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Retrieved November 19, 2014, from UN Legal Audio Visual library of International Law:

European Arrest Warrant Ref No. Am-131226-10. (2010, December 2). Retrieved November 19, 2014

Happold, M. (2012, June 24). Julian Assange and Diplomatic Asylum. Retrieved Novemmber 19, 2014, from European Journal of Internaltional Law – ejiltalk:

HAYA DE LA TORRE CASE: Colombia v. Peru. (1951, June 13). 1950 ICJ REP. 266 (1950). Retrieved November 19, 2014, from INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE:

Robinson, M. (2014, April 25). Julian Assange has cost Britain £6m as policing bill to guard Ecuadorian embassy where WikiLeaks fugitive is hiding soars. Retrieved November 19, 2014, from The Daily Mail:

Statement of the Government of the Republic of Ecuador on the asylum request of Julian Assange . (2012, June 9). NEWS RELEASE No. 042 . Retrieved Nov 19, 2014, from Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad Humana:

UN General Assembly. (1975, September 22). Question of Diplomatic Asylum : Report of the Secretary-General. Retrieved November 24, 2014, from UNHCR:

Sub-Saharan Africa, Remittances & Action needed – Dilip Ratha


Today I would like to share two things—an amazing World Bank blog and a TEDGlobal 2014 talk filmed Oct 2014 on the subject of remittances. The blogger/speaker is Economist Dilip Ratha. According to his bio page on TED, he “was the first to point out the global and national significance of remittances and their social and economic impact. He is the manager of the Migration and Remittances team at the World Bank and the head of the Global knowledge partnership on migration and development (KNOMAD). He also co-coordinates the G8/G20 Global Remittances Working Group, and is involved in a number of other organizations focusing on remittances”.

The New York Times wrote of him, “No one has done more than Dilip Ratha to make migration and its potential rewards a top-of-the-agenda concern in the world’s development ministries.”


In 2013, international migrants sent $413 billion home to families and friends — three times more than the total of global foreign aid (about $135 billion). This money, known as remittances, makes a significant difference in the lives of those receiving it and plays a major role in the economies of many countries. Economist Dilip Ratha describes the promise of these “dollars wrapped with love” and analyzes how they are stifled by practical and regulatory obstacles.

Dilip Ratha has also written a fascinating and enlightening blog with Dame Tessa Jowell titled, ‘It’s time to repeal the remittances “Super Tax” on Africa’. It’s a must read. Here are some excerpts:

Remittances are the shining light of development policy. While debate rages in austerity-hit Western capitals about spending on aid, remittances cost tax-payers nothing. Remittances to developing countries are worth nearly half a trillion dollarsthat’s three times the level of aid – and they’re rising fast, quadrupling since the turn of the century. And remittances work. It’s hard to imagine a more efficient targeting system than people sending money home to their own families and the facts bear that out; remittances are linked to improved economic, health and education outcomes. And as if those benefits weren’t enough, remittances are a huge driver of financial inclusion, acting as a gateway to banking for the people sending and receiving them.

But people sending money home to many parts of the world, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, are paying far too much. They face what is, in effect, a remittances ‘super tax’. A worker sending $200 from London to Lagos can pay fees of over 13%, more than fifty percent above the global average. And within Africa it’s even worse, sending money from South Africa to Malawi could cost upwards of 20%. Of course we all expect some fees for financial transactions but there is strong evidence that these costs are excessive and are restricting the poverty-zapping remittances that reach poorer countries. Reducing fees for sub-Saharan Africa to the global average for instance would mean an extra $1.3 billion reaching families in the region.

…Indeed, if the cost of sending remittances could be reduced by just 5 percentage points relative to the value sent, remittance receipts in developing countries would receive over $20 billion dollars more each year than they do now. That amount of money could educate 18 million children and buy enough vaccines to prevent 8 million children dying from diseases like malaria.

To fix this situation, we need action on three fronts.

To read more on the action needed, read the enlightening blog here or use this shortened link:

Below is the TEDGlobal 2014 video.