General News of Friday, 6 October 2017
The Chief Justice, Ms Justice Sophia Akuffo has unveiled plans to close down all dilapidated court structures to safeguard the safety and security of judges and court users.
She said the current state of most court structures across the country were death traps and demeaning to the administration of justice.
According to the Chief Justice, she recently visited the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) Court where conditions were so deplorable.
Addressing members of the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana (AMJG) at their 37th Annual General Meeting (AGM’s) annual conference in Accra Wesdnesday, Ms Akuffo planned to close the courts to make them safe for use by judges and the public.
“It is about time, we showed as a nation, respect for justice,” Ms Akuffo said.
This year’s two-day conference was on the theme: “Judiciary, A Bastian of Democracy,” and is being attended by more than 100 judges and magistrates.
Turning to financing of the Judicial Service, Ms Akuffo urged the government to consult the Judiciary before allocating budget to it.
She said funds released to the Judiciary were not enough partly because it was not consulted at the planning state.
She further stated that the 15 per cent allocated to the Judiciary from its internally generated funds (IGF) was not adequate.
She said the Judiciary could be truly independent when it was allowed to have financial independence as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.
Ms Justice Akuffo accordingly charged the magistrates and judges to explore new ways by which the Judiciary could be financed to guarantee its true independence.
Backlog of cases
Ms Justice Akuffo said there was currently a backlog of cases, a situation which did not create a good image of the Judiciary in the eyes of the public.
She said backlog of cases leading to delays in justice delivery was unacceptable and for that reason “we are analysing to ensure all judges do make case management plans and abide by those plans.”
The Chief Justice said a contract for the justice project under the e-governance programme had been signed.
The project, when rolled, will track cases from the beginning to the end.
For instance, in the case of criminal cases, the system would track from the arrest stage to the date of conviction or acquittal.
She said the programme would be rolled out to ensure that all people were treated fairly under the law.
Ms Akuffo also assured the gathering that all lower courts across the country would also be automated.
Ms Justice Akuffo said she had noted the problems facing the Judiciary and was poised to ensure they were all resolved.
She said there were more than 200 vacant positions yet to be filled in the Judicial Service but noted that her outfit had to be given financial clearance before it could engage new hands.
The President of the AMJG, Mr Justice Victor Ofoe, touched on the problems facing his colleagues, including promotions that had been pending since 2013, poor security and inadequate infrastructure among other issues.
Mr Ofoe expressed worry over the delays in the payment of pensions to retired judges.
Former CJ honoured
The AMJG honoured the former Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood for her sterling leadership while in office.
She thanked the magistrates, judges and staff of the Judicial Service for their support while she was in office.