We Fear! Judges Cry Out

The Association of Magistrates and Judges, Ghana (AMJG) says judges in the country fear for their lives in the wake of recent attacks on the judiciary.

According to Justice Victor Ofoe, president of the association, judges who normally go to sit in the court rooms alone without any security feel threatened as people could mass up within seconds against them.

In the view of the Court of Appeal judge, the incident on Thursday had brought to the fore the threats judges face each day in their bid to perform their duties.

Justice Ofoe’s comments come just a day after some stoutly-built members of the Delta Force, a vigilante group in Kumasi, invaded the KMA Circuit Court and set free 13 of their members, who had been remanded into prison custody.

The incident happened barely a year after some three radio panelists of Accra-based Montie FM had also threatened the lives of judges of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood, over an   election-related case pending before the court.

However, addressing journalists at a news conference in Accra yesterday jointly organized by the association and the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSAG), Justice Ofoe said for a group of persons to enter a courtroom to forcibly free persons who were a subject of criminal prosecution, is clearly unacceptable.

He said, “We have no doubt in our minds that the Ghanaian society will be with us in describing such act as primitive, uncivilized, primordial and above all, criminal.”

Justice Ofoe stated, “We call on the authorities as a matter of urgency, particularly the police, to arrest and bring to normalcy the situation for peace-loving Ghanaians to go about their lawful duties. Such acts are a threat and intimidation of the members of the judiciary.

While ruling out the issue of contempt against the vigilante group, the Court of Appeal judge nonetheless held that the culprits must face the law.

Justice Ofoe urged members of the judiciary, particular in Kumasi where the incident occurred, to remain calm whilst an immediate solution is found to the impasse.

He said the association was in discussions with the leadership of the Judicial Service towards providing maximum security to all the courts.

The AMJG President was emphatic that the police must be proactive.

“We call on the government, particularly the police hierarchy as a matter of urgency, to take all necessary steps to allay the worries, fears and anxiety of all judges and magistrates in the region. We would with all deference strongly advise the police in future not to fail in their threat assessment of cases that come before the courts,” he declared.

He further contended that every court should be considered a flash point – a point that is worth the constant eye of the security agencies since criminal trial has the potential of emitting violence.

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By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson