Safeguard integrity of justice system – Chief Justice  

Chief Justice Gertrude Araba Torkornoo

The 2023 Bar Conference of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has opened in Cape Coast, with a charge on members of the legal profession to safeguard the integrity of the justice system.  

Chief Justice Gertrude Araba Torkornoo, opening the conference, said it was the duty of every legal practitioner in whatever capacity to ensure that their work produced the much-sought values of justice, fairness and the Rule of Law.  

“We are required to be guardians of rights, interpreters of the concept of justice and advocates of justice for both the strong and the weak without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.  

“Legal practice must be carried out with a deep culture of respect for the principles, ethics and directions that society has shaped for itself,” she said.  

The week-long conference is on the theme: “Ensuring high standard and integrity in public life: The role of legal profession.”  

The conference has assembled hundreds of legal practitioners to confer on how to position the legal profession to effectively serve the public.  

Justice Torkornoo urged the lawyers to work within the ethical dictates of the profession, while entreating them to operate with the principles of independence of mind, diligence and integrity.  

“Diligence supported by personal integrity, an attachment to propriety of conduct, compliance with law, and avoid of criminal conducts will no doubt make the arena of dispute resolution a safe place not just for lawyers but for the public that we are called to serve,” she stressed.  

Touching on the slow pace of justice delivery in the country, the Chief Justice deplored the excessive waste of time and money particularly in case management despite the extensive rule made for case management.  

She said such practices left citizens and investors with a deep sense of frustration with the efficacy of the judicial system, adding that the implication especially in land litigation, debt recovery and human rights action could drive up interest rates and deter investors.  

“It is important to remember that for every case unduly delayed, for every murky piece of legal landscape created, many potential investors are driven away,” she cautioned.  

In view of that, she said she was taking steps to correct the situation to ensure that both case and time management were done effectively for both citizens and judges.  

Beyond that, Justice Torkonoo said she was working towards initiatives including deepening the application of technology and E-governance systems to build a fully integrated judicial system that links all levels of court work.  

The initiatives would ensure using data for planning, monitoring and improvement of quality of court services, and very broad and sustained capacity building for both the judiciary and judicial service of Ghana.  

She therefore appealed to all stakeholders to support her initiatives to bring faster and more effective justice to the doorsteps of citizens.  

For his part, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, the Attorney-General and leader of the bar, announced that he had submitted to cabinet a Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill seeking to reform the Criminal Procedure Law of the country to ensure criminal cases were speedily adjudicated.  

He said the new measures proposed included scrapping trials on indictment, except where the offence was punishable by death or life imprisonment as enshrined in the Constitution or other relevant legislations.  

He added that it would also introduce day-to-day trial of all criminal cases, except where same was impracticable; restriction of interlocutory appeals to only after a determination by a trial court of a submission of no case by the accused, and reform of the jury system to reduce the list of exemption from jury service.  

“And I think I must indicate that going forward, lawyers will serve as jurors,” he added.  

Mr Samuel Adu Yeboah, Central Regional President of the Ghana Bar Association called for an urgent renovation of the Cape Coast Court Complex, describing it as “a death trap”.  

He said the complex was in a serious state of disrepair and promises given over the years had not been fulfilled.  

He said even though a land had been secured for a new court complex, it was critical to keep the existing in shape as it was still in use.  

Source: GNA  

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