The Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, has urged judges not to be swayed by unjustified criticisms in the discharge of their duties.
Rather, he stressed the need for judges to be firm, resolute and uphold the rule of law at all times.
Speaking at the annual general meeting (AGM) of the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana (AMJG) in Accra yesterday, Justice Anin Yeboah said the judiciary was not above criticism, and in fact needed criticism to develop but what was required was fair and constructive criticisms.
“We cannot forbid people from expressing their sentiments in the public space but unsubstantiated allegations against judges, physical and verbal threats and attacks on judges are tantamount to perverting the course of justice,” he said.
Some decisions of the courts, the Chief Justice said, had led to certain criticisms based on misinterpretation and misunderstanding of those decisions in an effort to put pressure on the judiciary.
Nevertheless, he urged judges not to be perturbed and rather continue to stick to the tenets of the law.
“The misinterpretation and misunderstanding of court decisions, regardless of the motives with which they are done and the pressures they exert on you should not cause you to waiver in your fidelity to the law.
“Yours is to dispense justice and uphold the rule of law irrespective of public drama. As judges and magistrates, you must always withstand such pressures, as anything contrary to that will be a departure from the rule of law,” he said.
Justice Anin Yeboah's comments come on the back of recent public debate on judicial independence and accusations from former President John Dramani Mahama to the effect that the independence of the judiciary had been compromised.
The assertions by Mr Mahama were condemned by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, who described them as baseless and unacceptable from a person who once occupied the highest office of the land.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo also waded into the conversation and urged the general public to resist persons who disparaged the judiciary for their parochial and political interests.
The 41st AGM of the AMJG which was on the theme, “Maintaining the Integrity of the judiciary amidst challenges of democratic rights and freedoms”, attracted active and retired judges and magistrates from all over the country.
The annual event is used to discuss matters pertaining to the welfare of judges and magistrates and the judiciary at large, award some distinguished judges, and also elect new executive for the association.
In attendance was a Deputy Attorney–General, Alfred Tuah-Yeboah; the Director of the Ghana School of Law, Yaw Oppong; the President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), Yaw Boafo, and the President of the Judicial Service Staff Association (JUSAG), Samuel Afotey Otu.
On development of the judiciary, the Chief Justice assured the judges that many infrastructural projects to improve justice delivery were at various stages of completion.
For instance, he said a housing complex for Justices of the Court of Appeal in Kumasi and 60 other houses for judges throughout the country had been completed and would be inaugurated next month, while 100 new court buildings all over the country were also on course.
“Preparations are also underway for the commencement of the Cape Coast High Court complex, while that of the Wa Court complex is also in the pipeline,” he added.
The President of the AMJG, Justice Henry Kwofie, said it was unfortunate that people nowadays took judges of the highest court of the land to the cleaners without any basis or justification.
Justice Kwofie who is a Justice of the Court of Appeal, said criticisms of judges should be focused on the application of the law in judgments and not on the personality of the judges.
“We have been attacked, maligned and all sorts of things have been said about judges based on erroneous impressions and deliberate falsehoods. By the nature of our work, we cannot go to the media to defend ourselves,” he said.
In an address, Mr Boafo said although the judiciary was fallible and therefore have to be criticised, unwarranted and unjustifiable attacks on judges endangered their safety and brought the administration of justice into disrepute.
For his part, Mr Oppong said judges must not allow social media and media coverage of their cases to influence them into making populist decisions.
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