Three issues are of paramount concern to me in this short piece. These are justice, fairness and inclusiveness. I believe that without these, progress in curbing the various forms of mob action cannot be sustained.
Access to justice is the hallmark of a civilised society. And it is the cornerstone on which the entire society is built. The Chief Justice Madam Sophia Akuffo did explain at her recent hearing that ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ and ‘ justice hurried’ as it is for instance perpetuated by a mob, may be ‘justice buried’. And this case justice has not been served and lessons may never be learned.
More so the Chief Justice did explain that ‘mob action’ is different from ‘mob justice’. As very often, mob action on a suspect, is not justice served for all parties involved.
Again for me, in order to attain fairness in justice delivery, justice should not be perceived as being done, but should be actually seen done, and all parties should be adequately represented in the proceedings. And the outcome of the proceedings could be tested again assuming a party in the deliberation is unsatisfied with the initial outcome.
This means our legal institutions should be adequately funded for the speedy and efficient adjudication of all cases before them. As in many cases, the absence of the efficient and speedy adjudication of cases, has led to the perception that justice is not being served as expected. And this is a concern to be tackled by the entire society.
And what does “access to justice” mean, if a fully funded legal aid system is limited in its functions. Should we still keep dreaming of such notions whereas we can adequately fund it and actualise our expectations? These are some of the questions I have asked various personalities including lawyers and security experts, since the gruesome murder of Major Maxwell Adam Mahama.
For me the growing perception that justice is not speedily and fairly served is one of the reasons leading to the rising incidence of mob justice in many communities. And if this claim cannot hold to be true, then the legal institutions should help clear the misconception.
And the national consensus in the very important fight against illegal small scale mining (Galamsay) should not prevent those affected from accessing any form of legal aid should the need arise. Access to justice, in this regard, means being treated fairly and within the expectations of the law even though the act committed is an illegality.
Ernest Adu-Gyamfi in his insightful article “Implications of mob justice practice amongst communities in Ghana”, said the root cause of mob action is amongst others the distrust in the legal and security authorities, hence the need for awareness creation on our human rights, improving our justice and the police accountability measures, and resourcing the police for them to effectively carry out their mandate.
The onerous responsibility of the National Commission for Civic Education cannot be understated in its effort to develop meaningful strategies in educating the public on various concerns affecting the society. But it equally needs more funding with regards to fighting the rising incidence of mob action.
Inclusiveness; and for me- every member of the public- we all need to stay vigilant in the effort to prevent the incidence of mob action or mob justice. We all need to become alive to our civic responsibilities and help prevent such unfortunate occurrences from taking place in our communities.
By Benjamin Hallo