The Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSAG) has called for adequate security protection and some risk allowance for its members following the recent attacks at the Tamale District Court.
According to JUSAG, members have the duty to nurture and protect the justice system with the immense responsibility of shaping the future of the nation by “upholding the principles of justice and the rule of law,” but will have to be protected.
On August 28, some community members stormed the Tamale District Court to ensure that a drug peddler, whose actions is said to have been destroying lives of the youth of Tamale, is prosecuted which led to the exchange of gunshots.
This incident in Tamale and in recent reported assaults on a Court Bailiffs, is what JUSAG required adequate security protection and risk allowances.
President of JUSAG, Mr. Samuel Afotey Otu who made this call during the 2023 Judicial Service Staff Durbar and Open Forum in Cape Coast said, the incident is a wake-up call for its members to be considered for risk allowances.
“As members of the judicial service, it is our solemn duty to nurture and protect the justice system. We have the immense responsibility of shaping the future of our nation by upholding the principles of justice and the rule of law.
“As we do this and more, let us enhance security in our Courts to protect and safeguard staff, judges and magistrates and our clients.
“The recent incident of attack at the Tamale District Court is a wake-up call on the service to relook at our security protocols. It also sends a signal that all employees of the service are at risk.
“And with this inherent risk, provision of risk allowance should not be seen as too much for staff,” Mr Afotey Otu charges.
Human resources, pillars of justice
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Afotey Otu said, the durbar was a major forum to interact with staff of the Judicial Service and the Judiciary.
Speaking on the theme, ‘building the pillars of justice in the Ghanaian justice system,” he said “it best suit our circumstance and the times, because a solid foundation of justice has been laid and it is incumbent on each and every one of us to build the pillars to a successful future.”
He said, for employees of the Judicial Service, the pillars of the justice system in modern era are built on infrastructure, technology, the laws (including the rules of our court, practice guidelines, policies and values), and the human resource development.
“We have witnessed significant upspring of court infrastructure. The e-justice services are progressing steadily with virtual court hearings, and there can be said to be abundant laws, rules and procedures to guide our operations.
“When these are put in place, the pillars of justice will not be built unless the most important part is well taken care of – that is the human resource management,” the JUSAG President stated.
He expressed his members appreciation to the Chief Justice, her immediate predecessor, and the Judicial Secretary for the diverse roles they played in the approval and implementation of the new salary structure for staff of the service.
Distress in delay implementation
Mr. Afotey Otu pointed out that, the challenges witnessed during the negotiations of the salary and related allowances appear to be a feature every two years.
He said, the delay in the completion and implementation of salary reviews cause a lot of distress for staff.
“These can largely be attributed to the inability of the Service to comply with Article 158(2), 159, and 161, and the recommendation of the Supreme Court in the case of JUSAG vs The Attorney General & 2 Ors. (2016) to make a regulation by constitutional instrument (CI) to clearly define the terms and conditions of service of staff of the service.
“We are reassured by the pledge of My Lady Chief Justice to see to immediate passage of the draft regulation into a CI.
“It is our fervent hope and prayer that the content of the draft will reflect key components of the 2012 Conditions of Service,” he stated.
Co-equal arm of govt
He said, the Judiciary “as a co-equal arm of government to Parliament, it is our further prayer that, the Parliamentary Service Regulation, 2014 (CI 118) as well as the Legal Service Regulation will be given due consideration in the Judicial Service Regulation.
“My Lady, justice is the bedrock upon which our society stands, and the judicial system plays a pivotal role in maintaining our governance architecture, and safeguarding the security of our dear nation.
“In the spirit of our vision which is to deliver equal access to quality justice, we must adopt the principle of inclusiveness, participation, high ethical standards, equity, high integrity, professionalism, discipline and fair play.
“These principles are not mere ideals; they are the very foundation upon which quality justice can be achieved for all,” Mr Afotey Otu stated.
He said, “it is crucial to ensure that every individual, regardless of their background, is given equal access to quality justice.
“As court officials, we must strive to eliminate all forms of discrimination, bias, or prejudice, and embrace inclusiveness in an environment where everyone feels heard, respected, and well represented.
“Our mantra of ‘justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done’ is something we must all be mindful of. For JUSAG, our motto is justice and fair play and that must be at the core of our judicial system,” the President of JUSAG stated.
This he said is “the surest way to foster trust and confidence in the judicial service, and ultimately lead to a stronger and more effective judicial system.”
Retirement – a living cemetery
While extending the felicitations of JUSAG to our forebears who have served this noble institution and have now retired, he said they deserved rewarding.
“To the awardees, you deserved it and the Good Lord shall continue to be with you in your retirement. Retirement is like a living cemetery. We shall all join you one day,” he acknowledged.
This, he said, “is why JUSAG has created Retired Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (REJUSAG) to cater for the welfare of all retired employees of the service.”
He charged members to take the opportunity to continue to get involved in JUSAG activities through REJUSAG.
“Retirement income is of prime importance to JUSAG. For this reason, JUSAG, in 2018 at the Wa Conference passed a resolution to establish the Judicial Service Provident Fund (Tier 3) which was launched by Her Ladyship Justice Sophia Akuffo (former Chief Justice).
“The Tier 3 in now in operational and in due course, circulars will be sent to registries and units for members to sign up,” he enumerated.
In addition to the Tier 3, he said provision of flexible, affordable and tailor-made financial services to all employees is dear to JUSAG.
To this, he said, JUSAG created the Judicial Service Staff Co-operative Fund also known as (JUSCOFund) which was launched by His Lordship, Justice Anin Yeboah (former Chief Justice) on the 31st of January 2023.
“The Bye-Laws of JUSCOFund qualifies all employees of the judicial services, all judges, all magistrates, and employees of institutions concerned with justice administration such as CHRAJ, NCCE, Attorney General Department, etc. to join the JUSCOFund.
“Even as banks interest rates are skyrocketing to about 45%, JUSCOFund offers loans to all employees at the most affordable rate of 15%. JUSCOFund also provides supplementary retirement income to members,” he urged them.
Mr Afotey Otu said, the Board of Directors of JUSCOFund and the National Executive Council of JUSAG will be glad to have the CJ enrolled on to JUSCOFund.
“We are also humbled to make you a life patron of JUSCOFund,” since the, “JUSCOFund is your fund for life!”
The President of JUSAG therefore pledged his outfits commitment to “building the bridges of our justice system, as it is the bedrock on which our democracy, rule of law, and good governance thrive.”
“Let us all reunite to one body of judicial service staff association with constitutional representation at the judicial council and in all affairs of the judicial service. Together we stand, divided we fall.”
The President of JUSAG said, with JUSAG formed in 1973 in Cape Coast, the climax of the JUSAG @ 50 anniversary would be held in Cape Coast.
Source: Ghana/Starrfm.com.gh/103.5FM/Murtala Inusah