General News of 2014-08-30

Ghana’s SC review process “problematic” – Prempeh

A professor of constitutional law, H Kwasi Prempeh, has described as “problematic," Ghana’s Supreme Court review process.

He wonders why the West African country’s constitution allows the Chief Justice to empanel more Justices onto the Bench during a review process.

Ghana’s highest Court has no limit on the number of Justices that can be on the Bench.

Conventionally, however, the Court has always had about 13 Justices. Depending on whatever case is before it, a panel of 5, 7 or 9 may sit.

In the case of last year’s election petition, a nine-member panel sat. Had the petitioners – 2012 presidential candidate of the main opposition New Patriotic Party, Nana Akufo-Addo; his two-time Running Mate Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and party chairman at the time, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey – decided to go for a review in the 5-4 majority ruling which upheld the election of president John Mahama, the Chief Justice would have been compelled to empanel an additional two Justices to the initial nine-member panel to hear the review.

Prof Prempeh argues that such a system is at variance with other jurisdictions in the world, such as the United States and Kenya, where the full panel of nine Justices always sits on a case and reviews same.

He told private FM station, Citi, Saturday that the review system used by Ghana’s Supreme Court risks opening the Chief Justice to attacks and criticisms, if, for example, a panel of two more Justices succeeds in overturning the decision of the initial nine-member panel.

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