General News of Wednesday, 4 October 2017
The Chief Justice, Ms Justice Sophia Akuffo, has bemoaned the environment of some court houses and residential facilities of judges and magistrate, describing it as unsuitable for use in the delivery of justice.
According to Ms Justice Akuffo, the environment of these facilities were simply unsafe, unhygienic, and not suitable for use in justice delivery, adding that these environment tarnishes the image of the judiciary.
The Chief Justice was speaking at the 37th Annual General Meeting of the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana in Accra under the theme: “Judiciary, A Bastion of Democracy.”
According to her, some of the structures branded as court room and residential facilities ought to be closed down until they were made habitable.
“It is about time that we show respect to the judiciary,” she added.
Ms Justice Akuffo recounted that the current budgetary allocation of the judiciary was woefully in adequate and stressed the need for a careful look at other modes of funding to guarantee provisions of Article 127 of the 1992 Constitution.
She noted that currently the 15 per cent Internally Generated Fund of the Judiciary was not enough, pointing out the untimely supply of those budgetary funds also needed to be looked at.
On the security and safety of Judges, Ms Justice Akuffo said she was in discussion with the Inspector General of Police to have Police Posts at every court in the country.
The Chief Justice said the judiciary was looking at Information Communication Technology (ICT) mode of dissemination of information.
Ms Justice said the judiciary had gone far with electronic case management which would soon be rolled out in order to analyse, deal and track backlog cases in the courts.
She noted that the backlog of cases pending before the court did not give a good image of the judiciary and described the practice as unacceptable.
“We are going to track cases especially the criminal ones from the Police station to the court until individuals are convicted or freed. These would go a long way for us to monitor those who are on remand; those who have not been tried, as well as stop the leakages in criminal justice system.
According to her, the USAID would be providing funding for the tracking of cases and a server would be installed at the premises of the Judiciary.
She indicated that Districts court in Accra would be used as pilot scheme and later the scheme spread all over the country by the Judicial Training Institute (JTI).
“With digital technology, change has become not only easier but expensive. We are however open to suggestions, ideas, and critiques. We also need to constantly review feedbacks.”
Touching on quality judgements of the courts, the Chief Justice noted that it was only quality judgements that would win the confidence of the people.
“Quality would help us eradicate mob justice, illegal mining, and other challenges facing our society.”
She further implored the Judges and Magistrates to be interested in how things worked around them and seek prompt and effective action on challenges confronting them.
“We no longer want by-standers. Everybody ought to be up and doing and hold ourselves for learning new things,” the Chief Justice said.