Reflections on justice system in Ghana

Supreme Court1 Supreme Court

Wed, 17 Aug 2016 Source: Osei, Nana Yaw

The Montie three petition is a necessary evil because it reveals to us one defect of the 1992 constitution: the tyrant of the executive over other arms of government.

Let us assume that the president exercises his prerogative of mercy granted him by article 72 of the foregoing constitution and revoke the Supreme Court’s verdict, he will not be flouting any law.

In his social cognitive theory, Albert Banduras argued that individuals are not only agents of actions but self-examiners of their own functioning. Through reflective self-consciousness, individuals evaluate their motivation, values and the meaning of their goals. This means that as people we can influence the future of our country by doing the right thing.

Having seen the drawbacks of the 1992 constitution such as the excessive powers of the president, what are we doing to remedy the situation? Should we amend the constitution or maintain the status quo? What has happened to the report of the constitutional amendment committee? The purpose of this article is to reflect on justice systems in society from philosophical point of view and find out whether the 1992 constitution really assure Ghanaians of justice.

John Rawls (1921-2002), was a philosophy professor at Harvard University. He had contributed substantially to political and moral philosophy. He was a historian of moral philosophy of no mean repute. His book magnum opus (A theory of justice) is regarded as one of the most important pieces of political philosophy from the liberal orientation.

For this reasons, I have decided to look at justice from Rawls’ perspectives which almost invariably is applicable to the political happenings in Ghana.

The first virtue of social institutions is justice while truth is a system of thought. However, elegant and economical truth must be rejected or revised if it is untrue. In the same way, laws and institutions no matter how efficient and powerful they are must be reformed or repealed if they are not just.

Every citizen of a country possesses the inevitableness founded on justice and not even the welfare of society as a whole can disallow. For this purpose justice rejects that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others. It does not encourage that the sacrifice imposed on a few are outweighed by the sum of advantages enjoyed by many.

Thus, in a just society, the liberties of equal citizenship are taken as settled and that the rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or the calculus of social interests. The only advantage of injustice is an erroneous theory known as lack of a better one which analogously implies that an injustice is tolerable and acceptable only when it is necessary to avoid an even greater injustice.

Being first virtue of human activities, truth and justice are uncompromising.

In the view of Rawls, society is well ordered when it is not only designed to favor its member s but when it is also effectively regulated by a public perception of justice. That is a society in which everybody accepts and knows that the others accept the same principle of justice. Besides, the basic social institutions generally satisfy and are generally known to satisfy these principles.

In this case while men may put forth excessive demands on one, they nevertheless acknowledge a common point of view from which their claims may be adjudicated. Under Ghana’s democracy, what is the public perception of justice, corruption and the accountability of leadership? Truth and justice are highly compromised whereby many scholars have refrained from debating on national issues for the fear of being verbally abused by the privileged young guys in government.

The point is that Ghana prides itself as a beacon of democracy in Africa while dictatorship is dancing alluringly under the shadow of the 1992 constitution. The only evidence of participatory democracy is when the innocent citizens queue under scorching sun to vote for their respective unmitigated self-seekers (not all of them though).

The aforesaid constitution can be best described as a diffused dictatorship where citizens sacrifice their liberty and freedom on unholy altars of the leaders’ egocentric convenience. For example, the president controls legislature through his quasi-legislative powers. He appoints the speaker of parliament. The president also appoints the Chief Justice and the minister of justice (Quasi-judicial powers).

Practically, the minister of justice who is a cabinet member is the head of the judiciary. What kind of constitution will entrust all the powers to the president? Perhaps the framers of the 1992 constitution were not convinced whether the then chairman of the PNDC would transit to constitutional government or a set up to identify traitors of the then leader.

My perturbation emanates from the fact that any citizen who is loyal to the president (not only one president) or his ministers can commit a heinous crime and when convicted could pressurize the president to invoke the article 72 for pardon. That is, if the case is not even aborted by politically-influenced police and BNI.

The police head is appointed and controlled by a given government. This is injustice in its height although I strongly agree with the American novelist, Brad Thor that “there is no justice in social justice, and there is no equality in social equality.”

On the contrary, the African American social reformer, Fredrick Douglass asserted that “where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be saved.”

Constitutions and laws are supposed to safeguard the fundamental human rights and liberty of the citizens but not to legitimize injustice. At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst (Aristotle). By this article, I am humbly calling for a national debate if not a referendum (when applicable) to reduce some of the powers given to the president.

Such an amendment will assure the safety of all and sundry. Our country is divided because of winner takes all concept and the tyrant of the executive .God bless our homeland Ghana and help us resist oppressors’ rule.

“I know that I am intelligent because I know that I know nothing.” (Socrates)

Nana Yaw Osei (Padigo), is a PhD Candidate, Psychology Arizona, USA. padigogoma77@yahoo.co.uk

Columnist: Osei, Nana Yaw