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Chief Justice Georgina Wood
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The Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Georgina Theodora Wood, has admitted that although there are too many criticisms against the judiciary, some of the criticisms have been genuinely frank, fair, legitimate and well-intended.

“In recent times, the judiciary has come under much scrutiny, with greater accountability, rightly in my view, being demanded of us. We have therefore come under much criticism. In fairness to the good people of Ghana, some criticisms have been genuinely frank, fair, legitimate and clearly well-intentioned”.

Speaking at the 32nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana (AMJG) in Accra on Thursday, she noted that the AGM was meant to address some of the major issues that would be conducive to a strong, robust, independent and trustworthy judiciary.

“We are deeply grateful to all those whose criticisms have contributed to civil debate and led to long lasting reforms within the judiciary.”

The meeting was on the theme, ‘Building a Strong Judiciary-Performing our Constitutional Mandate’.

Mrs Wood reiterated that the greatest threat to the judiciary’s respect and strength was judicial corruption.

“I emphasize that the Judicial Council takes a serious view of corrupt practices in all its forms and would not hesitate to take the appropriate legal steps to have it punished.

“Much as we would not entertain unsubstantiated or wild allegations against judges, we have clearly demonstrated over time that well founded allegations with the necessary evidence will be properly investigated and those found to be corrupt would be swiftly dealt with,” she stated.

She added that “We need to understand from the outset that the judiciary is a public entity in which the general public has a stake in terms of its competency, efficiency and institutional integrity.

“Therefore, as Chief Justice, I welcome constructive dialogue and informed suggestions that have the potential of helping the judiciary develop and grow as a major institution of state.”

The CJ tasked the public not to hesitate to provide evidence of corruption against any judge or magistrate, stressing,”That is the only way we can effectively deal with the judge who tries to take advantage of you”.

According to her, the Judicial Council had never condoned judicial misconduct in any shape or form. “Our efforts at tackling this menace, since taking over the leadership mantle, and indeed that of my predecessors, are all well documented”.

She noted that as a human institution, the judiciary was prone to err.

“However, the persistence and intensity of some of these scurrilous wholesale attacks have led to the rather unfortunate conclusion that the aim is not to help us to right wrong and or assist the judiciary to reform, but to scandalize and denigrate judges, create public disaffection against them and clearly undermine public confidence in the judiciary.”

Mrs Wood announced that in order to improve the work of the Judicial Service, the Supreme Court was excited to introduce new technologies that would make the Judicial Service more efficient and its information more accessible to Ghanaians.

“We have been engaging in discussions with Google to expand the Court’s e-judgments programme and make court information more accessible to Ghanaians. We have as well been engaging in discussions with Google to expand the Courts E-Judgments programme and make court information more accessible to Ghanaians by SMS,” she added.

She cautioned the AMJG and the Judicial Service to stay away from all forms of corruption and fight to protect the integrity of the Judiciary to build a better Ghana.

The president of the AMJG, Justice JB Akanba, stated that judges could not undermine the people they were expected to give justice to and cautioned them to be upright.

“We must never forget that the only real source of power that we as Judges can tap is the respect of the people. So for courts to appear just they must not be influenced by any outside sources, or appear to be capable of such influence.

“Any such conduct as bribery, and corruption which are manifestly and profoundly destructive to the concept of impartiality and independence of the judicial role has the potential to undermine public confidence in the judiciary and should not be countenanced,” Justice Akanba said.

The meeting was attended by magistrates and judges from the regions of Ghana.
Source: Stella Danso Addai

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