Judges must declare assets periodically - Chief Justice
Ghana’s Chief Justice, Her ladyship Mrs. Theodora Georgina Wood, has urged judges in West Africa including Ghana, to declare their assets just as public sector workers do.
This, according to her, will help in the fight against money laundering, terrorist financing and corruption in the Africa.
“As judges, we should demonstrate our commitment to the war against corruption and other transnational by declaring our assets periodically, especially where public officials are required to do so. Appropriate deterrent penalties must exist for violations of these requirements” she stated.
Her Ladyship made these remarks at the Judge’s Regional Capacity Building Seminar on Corruption, Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing for judges from Anglophone West African Countries, organized by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).
GIABA is a specialized institution of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as well as Financial Action Task Force responsible for combating the plague of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in West Africa.
The objective of the seminar, which will last for 5 days, is to bring together judges who are involved in the adjudication of economic and financial crime cases in order to foster sharing experiences with their counterparts in West Africa, with a view to promote a better understanding of the international legislative framework related to terrorist financing.
Giving her keynote address, Mrs Georgina Wood added that the fight against corruption and money laundering is not an easy task; hence judges need to stand their ground and ensure that they are “not influenced by personal interests or relationships or other external influences”.
According to her, when situations of that nature arise, the judges should declare a conflict of interest and disqualify themselves from pursuing the case to avoid being bias.
“…I do not see how any judge caught in the web of corruption can himself or herself actively champion the fight against the canker (corruption). I call upon constitutional bodies with responsibility over our judiciaries not to shy away from removing errant judges who use the high office they occupy and the enormous powers they wield to engage in unwholesome acts that undermine the sanctity of the state”
She advised ‘court users’ to avoid paying bribes to judges only to win their case. The judges, on the other hand, must eschew taking bribes since that will not help in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
Her Ladyship has also encouraged whistle-blowers to name and shame judges and other court officials who indulge in such activities because ‘the fight against corruption is a shared responsibility’.