A US-based Ghanaian Professor Kwaku Asare has called for a change in the way and manner in which contempt cases are handled in Ghana.
He said rather than judges summoning contemnors to appear before them the matter should be referred to the Attorney General (AG) for onward prosecution.
His comments come after Member of Parliament for Assin Central Kennedy Agyapong has been charged with contempt after allegedly insulting and threatening a judge.
He is expected to appear for the court on Monday September 14.
Sharing his views on this matter, Professor Asare in a Facebook post said “The judiciary is an arm of government and is not immune to criticisms and accountability".
“This is not to say that judges should be insulted, threatened or otherwise abused for merely doing their work. There should be no room in our civic space for insulting anyone, let alone judges who are merely doing their work. Having said all that, I am also firm in my conviction that a person who is summoned by a court for insulting a judge meets the definition of an accused person as contemplated by the Constitution".
“As such, he is entitled to all the procedural protections afforded to accused persons by the Constitution".
“I cannot and have never supported any criminal process that allows the same person to serve as the investigator, prosecutor, witness and judge of such accused contemnors where the insults, threats and abuse occurred outside the court".
“Whether it is the election petition contemnors, Montie 3, and now Kennedy Agyepong, I find such a process to be inquisitorial, unfair and unconstitutional".
In my mind, the offended court or judge, in such instances, should refer the matter to the Attorney General for prosecution in a court other than the one abused.
“It is, therefore, some progress that in the Kennedy Agyepong case, the contempt proceedings are being handled by Judge Wuntah Wuni even though the insults were directed at Judge Rockson (thanks to TheSammy Darko for drawing this to my attention). But ultimately we must get to the point where the full panoply of constitutional protections are available to the accused".
“For the avoidance of doubt, I am against the underlying insults, threats and abuse of judges or for that matter any human being. My plaint here is solely about the process by which justice is administered to these accused contemnors.”