A former Deputy Chief of Staff, Dr Alex Segbefia, has expressed satisfaction with the Supreme Court’s cracking of the whip on persons cited for contempt of court.
He noted that those presuming upon freedom of speech should be made aware that “even within our laws, Freedom of Speech is not open-ended”.
Speaking in a discussion on TV3’s Headlines on Saturday, Dr Segbefia, who is a legal practitioner, said the justices’ action is justified because “instead of dealing with the issue, people [began] dealing with the individuals, the judges.”
He said the Supreme Court’s decision to sentence Stephen Atubiga and Ken Kuranchie to a total of 13 days imprisonment is not to undermine freedom of speech.
“Now, we will see that people will think twice when speaking.”
“I am very pleased with what the court has done,” he stressed.
The Supreme Court on June 24, 2013 gave a “final touchline” to deal with any persons cited for contempt over the ongoing hearing on the election petition.
A Deputy Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Samuel Awuku, was the first to fall victim to the warning as he was summoned before the judges for his comments on radio. He was banned from attending court proceedings following his apology and retraction.
However, in an attempt to justify Mr Awuku’s comments, Mr Kuranchie, the Managing Editor of the Daily Searchlight, found himself in the wrong books of the nine judges, who summoned him on June 27, 2013 and on July 2, 2013 when he appeared, sentenced him to 10 days imprisonment.
While an activist of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Stephen Atubiga, got a three-day jail sentence, the party’s Ashanti Region Youth Organiser, Kwaku Boahen, escaped punishment after the ‘Statesmen’ apologized that contemptuous comments attributed to him were false.
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