Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has questioned the seeming unfairness in Ghana’s justice system, especially against those who engage in petty crimes.
He wondered why someone who steals a goat is fined huge sums of money and handed jail term while persons who invade a courtroom to free suspects ware eventually made to pay small fines.
“If someone steals a goat and is fined GHC5,000 and additionally slapped with a jail term, how can people who invaded a courtroom, overpower the security, release suspects, and put the life of the judge and staff in danger, and as their punishment… fined only GHC1,800,” he queried.
Speaking on the theme “Quality judges, delivering quality justices” at the annual Chief Justice’s forum in Kumasi Monday, Otumfuo wondered whether Ghana’s judiciary was being fair in the delivery of justice.
“Has justice been served and if even it has been served, the question maybe asked; whether the quality of justice was served. Quality justice for whom?” he asked.
Otumfou Osei Tutu premised his argument on the recent discharge of some members of the pro NPP vigilante group, Delta Force who stormed a Court in Kumasi to break lose some of their members who were facing trial for assaulting a public officer.
The Asantehene observed that should such judgements come from the Courts, it will be difficult to prevent people from questioning the quality of justice delivered by the judges, saying “If such judgements come from the courts, how can you prevent people from questioning the quality of justice delivered by our judges??
Court users your evaluators He said it is important for the judiciary to recognize the fact that the thousands of court users in the country have been evaluating the work of judges in the execution of their functions, describing them as “external evaluators”.
“To ignore us [court users] amounts to failure to deliver justice because you cannot judge yourself,” he told the judges. “Whatever benchmarks you establish in the pursuit of quality justice, prominent should be given to expeditious disposal of cases,” he advised, noting that “justice delayed is justice denied”.
He expressed the hope that going forward, the judiciary would make justice “more meaningful”. Meanwhile, the Chief Justice, Ms. Sophia Akuffo, has called on the judiciary to instill a high degree of public trust in the judiciary system. She said a high quality judiciary is reflected in a high degree of public trust.
The CJ thus underscored the need for the judiciary to stick to their code of ethics to ensure the reputation of judicial system is not dented.
She said a full integrated system that seamlessly links all the levels of courts through the application of technology and e-government system are being introduced.
That, she explained, would put Information Communication Technology at the centre of court administration in a manner that links all levels of court in a real-time.
Ms. Akuffo said the Judicial Service is collaborating with the Ministry of Energy to provide all District Courts with solar-powered energy to reduce their reliance on conversational electricity supply, which will result in reduction in utility bills.
“We will explore the use of solar energy to power our courts in the rural and peri-urban areas to make the seamless real-time linkage of all courts across the country,” she said.
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