General News of Tuesday, 15 May 2018
Ms Sophia Abena Boafoa Akuffo, the Chief Justice has criticised heads of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) over the dilapidated conditions of the district courts and residential accommodation for Judges and Magistrates in the country.
She emphasised that it was the statutory responsibility of the MMDAs to maintain decent courts and provide suitable accommodation for Judges.
The Chief Justice, therefore, directed the Assemblies to as a matter of urgency rehabilitate, furnish and put the facilities into good shape for the Judges and Magistrates to feel comfortable to discharge their duties.
Ms Akuffo gave the directive when she interacted with the members of the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSAG) and other quasi-judicial staff on Monday in Sunyani, to kick-start her five-day official working visit to the Brong-Ahafo Region.
The Chief Justice, who is touring the country expressed the displeasure that some of the buildings accommodating the District and Circuit Courts were death traps, a situation, she added was slowing down effective justice delivery system.
“Judges and Magistrates must be accommodated in decent buildings to make them comfortable to do their work”, she said and urged the Police Administration also to provide adequate and efficient Police security to the Judges.
That notwithstanding, Ms Akuffo advised Judges, Magistrates and the entire Judicial staff to adhere to ethical standards of the profession and exhibit a high sense of integrity, not only to improve on the justice delivery system but also maintain public trust and confidence in the Judiciary.
“We need to do well to erode the wrong public perception about the Judiciary, and this can be achieved if we followed the laid down procedures and processes in the justice delivery system. There is no justification for money to pass from a litigant to a judicial officer”, she added.
Ms Akuffo underlined the importance of the Judiciary to strengthen its internal control systems and take advantage of technology to facilitate its work.
Justice Patrick Baayeh, the Supervising High Court Judge in Sunyani, said the Judiciary, as the third arm of government, played a crucial role in the orderly administration of the country.
He noted however that, financial and logistical challenges constrain the work of the judiciary
Justice Baayeh cited lack of computers and photocopier machines, which had pushed most of the Courts in the region to go outside to run photocopies and that, had exposed highly sensitive materials and documents to the view of the public.
The situation, he described was unhealthy for the dispensation of justice.
Justice Baayeh expressed worry about the inadequate number of Judges, saying, there were only two Judges taking care of the seven Circuit Courts in the region.
The Supervising High Court Judge pleaded with the Chief Justice to address the accommodation problems facing the Judges in the region as soon as possible.