A retired justice of the Supreme Court, Mr Justice V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe, has expressed regret over the manner in which the country’s airwaves have been turned into a forum for what he described as “cheap talk”.
That, he observed, was being done in the name of freedom of speech or press freedom, without recourse to decorum.
He cautioned that freedom of speech went with duties and responsibilities which should be subjected to restrictions necessary for the growth and furtherance of gains in the country’s democratic dispensation.
Mr Justice Crabbe was delivering this year’s RE-Akoto and Seven Others Memorial Lecture in Accra on Wednesday.
The lecture was on the theme, “Entrenching democracy through the rule of law”, and formed part of activities marking the 53th Law Week celebration of the Students Representative Council of the Ghana School of Law.
The lecture was interspersed with a 25-minute re-enactment of the RE-Akoto trial which was carried out by some of the students.
It was attended by adherents of the Danquah-Busia tradition, Members of Parliament, government functionaries in the erstwhile Kufuor administration, justices of the Superior Courts of Ghana and political figures, including Dr Edward Mahama of the People’s National Convention (PNC).
The acting Chief Justice, Mr Justice William Atuguba, was also present.
Mr Justice Crabbe said Ghanaians must make continuity in the Constitution characteristic of the country’s democracy and also use legal means to satisfy its purpose.
According to him, the country’s earlier constitutions were never allowed to work and fell under the gun, while pre-independence activities, such as the 28th February, 1948 riots, had a greater impingement on the current Constitution.
The Constitution, he noted, was a historical, political and legal document, not a catalogue of powers, which led to the realisation of what Ghanaians were but not the prejudices, morals and parochial interests of some people.
He said good governance and democracy hinged on the proper functioning and efficient performance of the organs of state and that the law, the Constitution and the Judiciary were all false hopes because their liability lay in men.
Mr Justice Crabbe said the Constitution was organic and, therefore, it must be allowed to grow, since the country’s democracy had been prescribed by it.
He said the rule of law required that the government and the governed observed and obeyed the law, which essence was to control the exercise of power, so that every institution of state acted within the confines of the law.
The flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was not present but he had a statement read for him by the Member of Parliament for Abuakwa South, Mr Atta Akyea.
The Chairman for the occasion, Prof Justice A.K.P. Kludze, who is the Director of the Career Magistrates Programme, asked Ghanaians to resolve not to let the dehumanising things that happened to the late Baffour Osei Akoto, a senior linguist to the Asantehene, in whose name the lecture was instituted, and seven others to be repeated in the country.
The eight people were arrested and placed in detention on November 10 and 11, 1959 under the Preventive Detention Act, 1953 (No. 17 of 1958) and their lawyer, Dr J.B. Danquah, went to court to have them released.
Their appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected and the effect of the judgement was that Ghanaians did not have any protection against arrest and detention so long as the Head of State could declare such arrest and detention necessary for the security of the state.
Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana
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