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Panelists worried about corruption in the Judiciary

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Panelists at the 11th Annual Constitution Week celebration forum in Accra, on Friday expressed worry about perceived corruption of the Judiciary, which denies the ordinary person true justice.

They claimed that justice was being sold at the law courts, and called for mechanisms to ensure that the judiciary was accountable to curb corruption.

The panelists were, Mr A. Y. Seini, Director at the Legal Aid Scheme, Mr Abraham Amaliba, from the Legal Resource Centre and Mr B. I. Korray, Legal Practitioner at the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General.

The Constitution Week celebration organised by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) was on the theme: “The State of Ghana’s Democracy – the Judiciary and the Justice System,” to deliberate on the state of Ghana’s democracy.

They also expressed concern about adjournment of cases, which they said was a ploy to burden clients with extra cost for the benefit of legal practitioners and judges.

Mr Seini alleged that because of malfeasance of individuals at the courts wrong rules were accepted as normal, and when the average Ghanaian could not access justice due to the high cost of filing fees then the nation was at risk.

Mr Amaliba observed that judicial corruption was no more a perception but a reality and indicated that effective and efficient judiciary was needed to realise the fundamental human rights as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.

Mr Korray said the judiciary needed introspection to change their attitude to gain lost public confidence.

He advised the public to come out with constructive criticisms on the judicial system.

Mr Farhan Laary Bimi, Chairman of NCCE expressed worry that the courts delay electoral cases for years before passing judgment.

He said though the judiciary was supposed to be independent, there were instances where judges passed what he termed, “telephone judgment” from the Executive and called for stringent measures to be put in place to ensure speedy adjudication of cases.

Dr Raymond Atuguba, Executive Secretary of the Constitution Review Commission, sharing a personal experience of judicial corruption said the corruption in the judiciary was not a perception but real and that no one could convince him that some judges were not corrupt.

“I have two personal experiences; I stayed in a house close to a judge’s house and I saw what went on. There were instances where people mistakenly brought packages to our house ostensibly to give to the judge. We will listen to the whole story until they mention the case number, then we will tell them please you are in the wrong house.

“I stayed also with an upright judge and I saw how people attempted to bribe him but he always turned them down.”, he explained.

Dr Atuguba said: “The test of justice is deeper than waters and selling justice is the grievous crime one can talk of.”

He said there were instances where court clerks passed behind lawyers to see judges with incentives from clients and described the legal profession as very frustrating since documents were deliberately disappearing from the courts.

Dr Atuguba said the 2008 Afrobarometer Survey in Ghana confirmed the assertion that a greater number of Ghanaians had no trust in the court system, saying that 50 per cent of respondents indicated that judges and magistrates were corrupt.

He said various researches said even judges conceded that there was corruption in the judiciary and that there would be a serious trouble in future if nothing was done to curb the situation.

Source: GNA

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