Criticize but avoid hounding Judiciary – Chief Justice

Justice Mrs Georgina Theodora Wood, Chief Justice, has said that while the Judiciary remained amenable to criticism it must not be hounded in such ways as to lose the trust of the people and the international community.

She was speaking at the 10th Chief Justice’s Forum in Ho on Friday.

“I am not saying don’t criticize, but be careful not to run it (Judiciary) down,” Justice Mrs Wood stated.

The Chief Justice said the Judiciary was delivering a service, and ready for a critique of its operations.

She said the courts were being manned by competent and hard working judges, doing their best under varying challenges, and that it was the duty of civil society as well to “stand up for the Judiciary” to keep it independent.

Justice Mrs Wood, referring to the backlog of cases at the courts, again urged litigants to avail themselves of the opportunities offered by the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system.

She reminded District, Municipal and Metropolitan Assemblies of their obligation under the laws to provide infrastructure for the lower courts in their areas.

She observed that some court premises in those areas were dilapidated, needing urgent refurbishments.

The Chief Justice’s Forum is a yearly colloquium, bringing together the bench, bar and other stakeholders to evaluate the performance of the Judiciary.

It also offers the Judiciary the opportunity to open up to the general public.

This year’s event supported by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) is on the theme: “The Citizen’s Participation in the Administration of Justice”.

Mr Kofi Abotsi, a Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), in leading the discussions stressed that the public had a stake in ensuring a corruption free judiciary.

He said some lawyers and litigants by their utterances fuelled the perception of corruption in the Judiciary.

Mr Abotsi called for a look at the operations of registrars in courts as some of their deeds and misdeeds could impinge on the integrity of the courts.

He said courts decisions needed to be explained sometimes and also accusations investigated to close the communication gap between the public and the Judiciary.

Mr Abotsi said he had no doubt about the integrity of Judges and therefore called for public support for the cause of the justice system in the country.

He also called on Judges to come to the aid of people, who come before them without legal representation, and even demanded help from the Legal Aid Board on their behalf.

Justice K. A. Abada, Volta Regional Supervising High Court Judge urged the citizenry to avoid “cutting corners by offering bribes and other inducements to staff and senior members of the Judiciary with the view of having an unfair advantage over their opponents in litigation”.

Concerns raised by contributors include frequent adjournments of cases, cost of justice delivery, slow adjudication of land cases, and harsh disposition of some judges towards members of the Bar in their courts.

Source: GNA

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