Judges outside Westminster Abbey, rear view

The Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana (AMJG) has expressed concerns over what it described as “unnecessary incessant attacks” on the judiciary and its judges.

While lamenting over the unjustified attacks against their persons especially by parties their decisions or judgements do not favour, the Association urged the public to pay attention to their reasons and not their persons.

Speaking at the 41st Annual Conference for Judges and Magistrates in Accra, on the theme, ‘Maintaining the integrity of the judiciary amidst the challenges of democratic rights and freedom, president of the AMJG, Justice Henry Kwofie said unwarranted attacks undermine the integrity of the Judiciary.

“You all recognise that the Judiciary as an institution and Judges, in general, have been the subject of quite a lot of rhetoric, attacks and judgement of our courts even judgements of the highest court of the land have been attacked and the Judges who delivered the same judgements have not been swerved either.

“In my view, impugning the motives of Judges is actually undermining the integrity of the Judiciary. As a result of these unnecessary and incessant attacks, the Association in the first for about three to four terms has come out to issue statements to correct the erroneous impression and deliberate misinformation and falsehood churned out against the Judiciary,” the Justice of the Court of Appeal said.

He added that, “The Association must not be misunderstood to be against criticisms of Judges or the Judiciary. Criticism, if it is constructive, helps to improve any sitting and makes the various actors sit up but that is not what we are seeing lately in the press and the various social media.”

“But that is not the same as maligning, insulting and attacking the integrity of judges and the judiciary as seeing in the country we are of the view that evaluating or analyzing judges and their judgments should focus on how judges apply the law to arrive at a result or a decision but not focused simply on what the result might be or which parties to the litigation the decision favours. Judges by nature of our work cannot go onto radio, television or social media to defend ourselves and this is what our critics fail to realise. In my view impugning the motives of judges is actually what is undermining confidence in judiciary.”

*Cape Coast Court Complex unfit for purpose*

Touching on infrastructural development, Justice Kwofi said, the Association has taken note of the infrastructural developments that are being undertaken by the government through the District Assembly’s Common Fund but was quick to assert that, the Cape Coast Court Complex is unsafe for purpose.

“These include a construction of twenty town houses for Court of Appeal Judges which has just been completed in Kumasi with several amenities and is due to be commissioned in the middle of October this year, in addition hundred courts and residences are currently under construction across the country and about fifty of these will also be commissioned in October, 2022.”

“This in the view of the association is very good as it will increase accessibility to the courts. We are thankful for that but the association has consistently over the years drawn the attention to the deplorable state of the Cape Coast Court Complex.

“I had the opportunity to visit one of my colleagues who works in that building this year in June when it happened to be raining and although am aware the court was in a deplorable state, I was shocked by what I saw: bowls and pans in various corners where the water was dripping to the judge’s office and court room it was definitely unacceptable and no matter how determine you are to work such an environment is not conducive to do hard work, something seriously needs to be done urgently about the Cape Coast Court Complex,” Justice Kwofie lamented.

He added that, the abandoned Court Complex at Wa in the Upper East Region also needs to be completed as soon as possible.

*Increase budget for judiciary*

The president of the AMJG said, building more Courts across the country requires increase in the budget of the judiciary to enable the materials “we need and the payment of allowances and this brings me to the perennial issue of delayed payment of allowances particularly fuel allowances for judges and magistrates.”

For example, he said, the “First quarter (January-March) fuel allowance for judges and magistrates which was released by the ministry of finance only last week has not hit the accounts of judges and magistrates so we cannot even start talking about that of the second and third quarter. In the light of frequent increase in the price of fuel this situation is unacceptable.

“All my predecessors have persistently complained about the delay of payment particularly fuel allowances. At this conference we will be having discussions on ways of resolving this problem of delay in payment particularly fuel allowance,”

*AMJG Bus sold*

The Justice of the Court of Appeal also told the members that, the bus purchased for the use by members has been of no significant benefit to members and it has since been disposed off.

“In 2019 the Association purchased a Hyundai County Bus for the use of the members of the Association. Upon our taking office we found that the association was not getting any benefit from the said bus because members were not using it and for obvious reason it was not advisable to use the said bus for commercial purpose.

“At a meeting of the National Board of the Association (consisting of the National Executives and Regional Representatives) 18th March 2022 it was decided that the bus should be disposed off and the proceeds used for some other purpose.

He said, “a three-member committee chaired by Justice S. K. Asiedu of the Court of Appeal and consisting of Justice Eugene Nyante Nyadu of the High Court and Her Honour Afia Owusuaa Appiah of the Circuit Court and treasurer of the Association was constituted to handle all issues connected to the disposal of the said bus.”

Justice Kwofie said, the committee has since sold the vehicle and the proceeds have been paid into the AMJG account…”

Source: Ghana/Starrfm.com.gh/103.5/Murtala Inusah