A nominee for the Supreme Court, Justice Mariama Owusu, has put up a spirited defence of her colleagues on the bench, insisting that judges are not corrupt as perceived.
She said no judge worth his or her salt would take bribe before dispensing justice.
She indicated that people perceive judges to be corrupt because of “their conservative nature” and, therefore, advocated that the activities of the judiciary and the dispensation of justice be made more open to help enlighten the public on what goes on in the courts after a case is filed for trial until final judgment is pronounced.
The Supreme Court nominee who is being elevated from the Court of Appeal made the suggestion when she appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament for vetting yesterday.
She was confronted with the long held perception by a member of the committee and National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, that judges are very corrupt following the latest release of afro-barometer survey on corruption which classified the judiciary, particularly judges, as the most corrupt after the Police Service.
Justice Owusu said the perception had been created because almost everybody who works in the court is well dressed, including staff members and lawyers and people come and pay moneys to individuals in the court room with the promise to ensure that cases are decided in their favour without knowing who that person might be.
“People come and pay money to some people working in the courts or lawyers and they describe all of them as judges which is very erroneous,” she said pointing out that judicial accountability should be encouraged and promoted.
She stated that the only way to clear the erroneous perception is to make the court open to the public and also make the Judicial Service to educate the public on the processes cases in court are taken through before judgments are given.
She further suggested that supporting staff at the courts should be strictly supervised to ensure they always do the right thing. She indicated that judges do not kowtow to whims and caprices of the appointing authorities and that they apply the law without fear or favour.
She suggested that the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) should be encouraged to free the courts of huge pile of cases.
She also called for community service as sentence for ‘little’ offence saying that is the best way to decongest the prisons.
Justice Owusu indicated that the workload on judges is also huge, adding that that does not give them enough time to rest.
The nominee, who is 65 years old with 13 years experience at the Court of Appeal after rising through as magistrate, said she would bring to bear her experience to the Supreme Court and dispense justice without fear or favour when approved by Parliament.
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