General News of Friday, 15 December 2017
The Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Justice Sophia Akuffo, Thursday, launched the Anti-Corruption Action Plan for the Judiciary and Judicial Service to enhance integrity among judges and staff in the quest to stem corruption in the justice delivery system.
She said the Service would provide anti-corruption training and awareness programme for Judges, Magistrates, court officials and other staff on the Plan, and engage the public to sensitise them on actions that lead to corruption.
The 2017-2019 Action Plan was produced with the assistance of Danish International Development Agency’s (DANIDA) Right to Services and Good Governance Programme aimed at fighting against corruption along four key areas.
They include; increasing the focus on integrity, reducing opportunities for corruption, increasing transparency and accountability and dealing efficiently and effectively with complaints.
The move comes on the heels of a scandal that hit the Judiciary in 2015 when some judges and Judicial Service staff were caught on video taking bribes in an investigative piece carried out by ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, leading to the dismissal of 34 judges.
Justice Akuffo launched the Anti-Corruption Action Plan Document at a ceremony in Accra, on the theme: “The Judiciary of Ghana-Uprooting corruption, wherever it is found”.
She said the Service regarded the integrity of Judges, Magistrates and staff as very critical to the constitutional mandate of the justice delivery system of the country and would strive hard to protect it from being corrupted.
The Chief Justice noted that corruption challenged the fabric of the existence of the institution charged with the administration of justice and significantly eroded public trust and confidence.
She, therefore, charged Judges and Magistrates to maintain a standard of conduct above minimum set out in the disciplinary rules, and abide by the ethical principles enunciated in the Code of Conduct for Judges and Magistrates, which must be considered as the barest minimum.
Justice Akuffo said delayed dispensation of justice created grounds for corruption, therefore the Service would continue to vigorously pursue the effective application of technology through the automation of the courts and the improvement in the monitoring and evaluation systems to fast-track the delivery of justice.
“The e-Justice Project, which forms a critical part of our Judicial Reform Programme, will employ information and communication technology through our Electronic Case Management System to monitor workflow, facilitate the speedy trial of cases and thereby improve the turnaround time for the disposal of cases assigned to our Judges and Magistrates.
“Phase Two of the e-Justice Project, which commenced in June this year, is expected to be completed within eight months. The Project under the oversight of a Steering and a Technical Working Committee is being implemented at the Accra Law Court Complex for 46 High Courts.
“It will be extended to our Regional Court Complexes in due course and to all our courts nationwide eventually,” she said.
Justice Akuffo gave the assurance that the Service would fight corruption within the Judiciary and the Judiciary Service, adding; “It is a fight we intend to win and we will not relent until we achieve that goal”.
Some institutions were presented with autographed copies of the Anti-Corruption Action Plan including the Ghana Bar Association, DANIDA, US Embassy, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, United Nations Development Programme and Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice.