Justice as a Tool to Strengthned State Institutions

Mon, 17 Dec 2012 Source: Damoa, Adreba Kwaku Abrefa

As the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections enter into despicable dispute between the opposing Parties with the New Patriotic Party as the major victim pursuing a legal battle against Ghana’s Electoral Commission, breaths are held as to the outcome of this electoral dispute to be determined by the Suporeme Court of Ghana. The Ghana’s Supreme Court stands the test of all time, an acid test to evince its uprightness, its justiciary and uncompromisable image; an image conceived and perceived to be the most reliable whose determination of good from bad, right from wrong can be flawless and unquestionable.

Why after-all do we need justice? When the opposing Parties and especially the NPP raised the ‘red flag’, protesting against an electoral fraud in the figures reaching the ‘Strong Room’ irrespective of which Dr Kwadwo Afari Djan of the EC went ahead and declared the winners and losers of the elections, many are those who were and continue to be of the opinion that with or without fraud, let sleeping dogs lie for the sake of peace and tranquility in Ghana. There is an old stupid tenet in our traditional moral ethics to which I personally do not subscribe any way, that aggrieved minors dare not lay any competing claims against their superiors irrespective of the fact that such a tenet is not only unfair, it is immoral, it is unethical, it is wrong and it is un-Godly. Indeed, there can be tranquility in Ghana with a dangerous simmering dissatisfaction. The same applies to peace when in fact a perceiced justice is denied in what appears to be a daylight robbery of one against the other with impunity. Such a phenomenon must not be seen ordinarily to be affecting only the domain of individuals and groups of people, it goes a long way to further weaken our beleagured established national institutions and would do so in continuum. We therefore need justice because it is fair for all. Justice for all is necessary for social cohesion and a strengthened national integration. Without justice there can be no peace. Not only do we need justice for the above three attributes, we need justice because it is moral, ethical and priceless as well as rewarding. A just person is necessarily truthful and impartial. Many of us see the symbol of Themis, aldo known as Lady Justice at either entrances to courts of law or at the summit of towers of law court buildings as we in the UK find it here on the Old Bailey tower without incidentally understanding what the image depicts. Lady Justice either in sitting or standing posture holds a sword depicting the law’s coercive power in one hand and a human scale weighing competing claims in another. Lady Justice always appears blindfolded symbolising unbiased and blind to personalities, groups, factions, race or colour. She is therefore a symbol of impartiality. Such is the power of impartiality and uprightness vested in all judicial systems across the world. This is not to say that all justice systems are perfect however it is the greatest expectation of all to hear and see justice as a human institution done when it should and most especially at this watershed moment in Ghana when the whole world stands alert with ears pricked, eyes widely open, breaths held and pens poised to assess the nature and level of equanimity and equiparity of the judges of our highest court in Ghana’s democratic dispensation.

In British society, people lament when somebody commits an offence and takes his/her life with the statement that he/she has escaped justice. When I was least informed, I did question why people would be grumbling at such incidences because the culprit is no more living, having visited himself/herself with the utmost punishment. I later came to realise that British ordinary person’s understanding of justice does not make any room at-all for self-inflicted punishment at one’s whims but must be determined by a law court of competent jurisdiction however small or disproportionate the remedy expected is to the magnitude of the offence commited. Having said this, in Ghana, we see justice with different lenses as compared to how others see the same in other advanced societies. The understanding of justice and its application in all spheres of life makes life much easier and worth living unlike the Trachymachus version of justice in ‘Plato’s Republic’ that imports nothing but misery amd discontent to the poor and weak in society at the expense of the rich and powerful. Ghanaian institutions are bedecked with all forms of venal practices simply because of the missing element of justice which is even more expensive and unaffordable where it is even amenable for all. My personal opinion is that, if our Supreme Court can set the pace for justice to be seen and heard to be done in a high profile constitutional matter of this nature as confronts the justices, thare can be serious impact from the fallout of the judicial ethos so created. Should the Supreme Court on the other hand flaw its justiciary mandate, it would mean an endorsement of injustice with impunity.

Discerning from the performance of the Supreme Court over the last decade, I am personally confident that Ghana’s supreme Court justices are highly rated amongst the world’s best who depend on high levels of jurisprudence in their deliberations and determinations where their ratio decidendi that emerge thereof become plausibly unquestionable for bene fide acceptance by contesting parties to the disputes at stake. It is therefore up to Ghanaians to clear all doubts from their minds and wait and see what judicial ethos the justices would clad themselves in. An impartial and upright Supreme Court with a powerful and impartial national leader promoting justice and rule of law can go a long way in removing every negative image associated with our national institutions for freer, fairer and more robuste institutions that would function independently with diligence such that they would desist from looking over their shoulders in the performance of their duties as required.

Adreba Kwaku Abrefa Damoa; (London, UK)

Columnist: Damoa, Adreba Kwaku Abrefa