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Chief Justice says criticisms of judiciary mischievous

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Chief Justice Georgina Wood

Chief Justice, Georgina T. Wood, has broken her silence on recent comments against her leadership and rejected what she terms mischievous criticisms seeking to undermine the hard won reputation of the judiciary.

“The law does not frown upon fair criticism. What the law deprecates is mischief, imputing improper and dishonourable motives”, Justice Wood stated.

Addressing the annual general meeting of the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana (AMJG) in Accra and in apparent reaction to statements made by the Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), which among others, said that steps would be taken to cleanse the judiciary if the Chief Justice did not do the cleansing herself, the Chief Justice said, “we reject all such mischievous criticisms that seek to undermine our integrity and hard won reputation”.

Consequently, in what seemed to be a message of assurance to the magistrates and judges, Justice Wood said, “it is my duty as the captain of the judicial ship to touch on the subject. I also assume that you expect me to say something on the subject only if to calm any anxiety which may be troubling your minds because of recent outpourings on our sacred duty as judges”.

She accordingly urged the magistrates and judges to “go forth and do right to all, without fear or favour and equally important, having regard to the events of the recent past, do so without ill-will or disaffection.”

She explained that judges did not initiate actions and prosecutions, adding that “we simply administer the law as passed by Parliament to the cases and arguments thereon by counsel representing parties.”

According to her, judges could not organise press conferences to explain every decision they took, adding that “so when we are misrepresented, it hurts and does so unfairly indeed”.

The Chief Justice, who received a thunderous applause from the parked auditorium, pleaded with the judges and magistrates to resolve to build a country where constitutionalism, the rule of law, freedom, justice and prosperity would prevail at all times.

Justice Wood promised Ghanaians that the judiciary would remain faithful to its judicial oath to do justice to all without fear or favour.
and thanked the entire membership of the AMJG and public-spirited Ghanaians for their unflinching support during the past few weeks when the judiciary came under what she termed as “severe criticism and attack”.

Touching on the issue of perceived corruption in the  judiciary, the Chief Justice urged litigants and the general public to assist her outfit to weed out bad lots tarnishing the image of the majority of upright and hardworking judges.

She explained that she had chosen the theme: “Access to Justice: The Citizens’ Participation in the Administration of Justice”, and reminded Ghanaians that the theme implied they had a sacred responsibility to help build a strong and trustworthy judiciary.

Justice Wood announced that President J. E. A. Mills had held a meeting with her on the conditions of service and provision of infrastructure for the judiciary and gave the assurance that steps were being taken to further improve conditions of service.

She also announced that the tender process for the award of a contract for the 34 courtroom complex in Accra would be completed in the next couple of weeks to pave the way for the project.

The Chief Justice announced that the Justice For All Programme was currently ongoing to rid the prisons of remand prisoners and, therefore, urged judges to assist in decongesting the prisons by critically reviewing  evidence before them before remanding persons over bailable offences.

The President of AMJG, Mr Justice J. B. Akamba, commended the President for dissociating himself and his government from the unfortunate remarks of the National Chairman of the NDC.

He said to reinforce the independence, accountability, integrity, impartiality and effectiveness of the judiciary, “the judiciary has stood alone, must stand alone and should continue to stand alone without any interference or paying any allegiance to any political party in the country”.

Mr Justice Akamba emphasised that judicial integrity was the only means by which public trust could be earned.
Source: Daily Graphic

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