Opinions Sat, 21 Aug 2010

Tainted Professional Conduct And The Ghanaian Judiciary

By Alexander S K Bediako

Adam Smith states in his lectures on jurisprudence that a factor that greatly retarded commerce was the imperfection of the law and the uncertainty in it application. This view cannot be written of by anyone who is interested in the concern and wellbeing of any individual within our society.

The executive and the legislature are elected by the people while the judges are appointed. Although the judges are not elected by the people, they must be impartial and must be seen to be impartial. They must protect the individual against the tyranny of the state, poor against the rich and the weak against the strong. Here lies the importance of the judiciary. This branch of government interprets the law and safeguards the right of the people, punishes criminals, protects the honest and the innocent and thus secure justice for the society.

Common sense, logic, honesty and integrity are not values we want to hold in our society today- sentimentality is the order of the day, and those who are expected to know better are rather fuelling sentiments. Let us pretend that all is well with our judicial system and suffer the consequences of that pretence. You cannot ignore public perception on any issue. We would fail as a nation if we write off public perception on issues that are fundamental to our security and wellbeing. Indeed, what can a country with corrupt, arrogant and biased judiciary do? It takes only courageous people to face and deal with this rot that has eaten deep into our national fabric.

Ghanaians must thank Dr Kwabena Adjei for provoking this public debate. Some judges and lawyers in Ghana hold themselves above the law and arrogate to themselves the wisdoms of this world. We must as a country encourage individuals and institutions to challenge the ills of our society. To continue to be like an ostrich will not be in anybody’s interest. Consistency is very important in everything we do and especially in the act and conduct of public officials and institutions. This is lacking as far as Ghana’s judiciary is concerned. Their objectivity is hugely impaired and needs to be cleaned.

All of a sudden some members of the Ghana Bar Association have found their lost voices. Where lies their consistency? Where was the Ashanti Regional Bar Association of Ghana judicial service when former president Kufour interfered in the judiciary by increasing the judges in the Supreme Court just to make sure that Tsatsu Tsikata was thrown into jail? Where is the neutrality of the judiciary in this context? Neutrality is the absence of any form of partisanship or commitment. It consists of a refusal to take sides. Ashanti Region’s branch of Ghana Bar Association has just confirmed the very issue Dr Kwabena Adjei is worried about. Their action has demonstrated to all of us what is being said about the judiciary. The judiciary has been corrupted and made dangerous by the Kufour led administration. In international relations, neutrality is a legal condition through which a state declares its non-involvement in a conflict or war, and indicates its intention to refrain from supporting or aiding either side. As a principle of individual conduct, applied to the likes of judges, civil servants, the military and other public officials, it implies, strictly speaking the absence of political sympathies and ideological leanings. Have these values or characteristics eluded our legal professionals like Okudzeto, Papa Owusu Ankomah and the likes during the eight years of president Kufour regime? The constitutional principle that there should be a strict separation between the judiciary and other branches of government has been breached and tainted by the irresponsible Kufour led administration, which nation wreckers don’t want us to talk about and to cause its correction.

Whichever way, the judiciary should be cleansed of every garbage, rot and filth. Besides, if it would continue to be relied upon to perform its redemptive role in our society and for that matter our democratic dispensation, it must first remove the long beam of corruption stuck in its eyes so it can behold and remove the mote in others’ eyes. A corrupt and biased judiciary is every nation’s worst enemy and plague and must not be entertained and encouraged anywhere in Ghana.

Source: Alexander S K Bediako

Columnist: Bediako, Alexander