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19-Jun-2014  
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Georgina Wood
 
 
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The financial crunch that has hit the Judiciary has not only led to the closure of the Court of Appeals sittings in the regions, but is also threatening the lives of the judges.

A press statement released by Ghana Bar Association (GBA) yesterday indicate that some of the High and Lower Court judges are living in appalling and inhuman environment. “There were damaged doors, windows, ceiling, tiles, leaking roofs, broken sewage cisterns.

The houses were in a general state of disrepair, which does not befit the residence of members of the judicial arm of government. “In other places, reptiles crept into the bungalows because of the overgrown environment,” the GBA noted in its statement, which we have reproduced bellow.

The National Executives of the GBA, on its annual tour of the regions, was met with a rude awakening on the appalling, inhuman and degrading circumstances in which some justices of the High Court, the Circuit Court and District Court are compelled to work and live.

The National Executives were conducted round the living quarters of some of the judges and it was a sorry sight. There were damaged doors, windows, ceiling, tiles, leaking roofs and broken sewage cisterns. The houses were in a general state of disrepair, which does not befit the residence of members of the judicial arm of government. In other places, reptiles crept into the bungalows because of the overgrown environment.

Equally regrettable is the condition of the working environment. There were cracked walls, leaking roofs, poor sanitation, lack of running water and broken down air conditioners and other infrastructure.

Court recording systems have all broken down, forcing judges to revert to long hand as a way of recording, thereby frustrating the speedy adjudication of cases. The security of the court documents is compromised because of lack of appropriate storage facilities.

The Ghana Bar Association notes with regret that despite the fact that the Constitution guarantees financial autonomy to the judiciary, the institution virtually has to be on its knees begging government to release its subvention.

The situation has been worsened by the fact that the judiciary has not received even the inadequate budgetary provision, for over a year. This has resulted in a near total breakdown of the justice delivery system to the extent that basic working tools such as stationery are in some cases not available.

The crisis has reached a dangerous peak with the suspension of the sitting of the Court of Appeal in some regions forcing litigants and lawyers to travel all the way to the capital which itself is overburdened with caseloads.

The Ghana Bar Association calls on the president of the Republic as a matter of urgency to ensure that the budgetary allocation due to the Judiciary is released forthwith in accordance with the constitutional obligation imposed on him.

This will enable the sorry living and working environment of judges to be rectified to give them conducive environment to live and work and administer justice without fear or favour. The GBA further notes that 15% internally generated fund retained by the Judiciary is grossly inadequate for the third arm of state to perform its constitutional mandate in all the ten regions of the country.

Accordingly, the GBA calls on Parliament, without further delay, to increase the percentage of the internally generated fund from 15% to 75%. These measures advocated must be treated under a certificate of urgency by both the Executive and Parliament to avoid total collapse of the administration of justice with its attendant repercussions on the nation.
 
 
Source: The Chronicle
 
 

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