18th February, 2021.
The Attorney General & Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice, The Republic of Ghana,
The Chief Justice,
Ghana Judicial Services,
Petition for the removal of the wig in the judicial services of ghana
We, the undersigned citizens of Ghana, hereby petition the offices of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and the Chief Justice of Ghana, for a review and removal of the use of wigs by Judges and Lawyers in all courts and judicial services of Ghana. Our petition is necessitated by, and premised on a number of reasons as follows;
Ghana’s decolonizing agenda, starting with His Excellency, Dr. Asagefo Kwame Nkrumah down to His Excellency, Nana Addo-Danquah, Akuffo-Addo, has led to many changes in the nature and application of the Common Law System in Ghana: Changes that are intended to make the Common Law practiced in Ghana, distinctly Ghanaian; Ghana inherited a Parliamentary System of Government from the British in 1960 but chose to adopt a Presidential System of Government with a Uni-Cameral Legislature as part of its decolonizing agenda and for determining a government that suits its unique needs as a country; The use of the Wig by Judges and Lawyers in our Ghanaian Courts and Judicial Services of Ghana, represents a clear case of unnecessary retention of colonial legacies that have no judicial necessity or significance. Even if it is argued that the use of wigs in Ghanaian courts does not hinder the delivery of justice, it can equally be argued that it does not also add anything of value to the delivery of justice in Ghana. And what doesn’t add, we think, must necessarily subtract because it costs the state and the Judges/Lawyers resources to acquire and maintain the wigs. We believe that the use of the wig in Ghanaian Courts and judicial services contributes to the mystery or intimidation of the Law in Ghana, further alienating Ghanaians from the legal and judicial systems. This situation leads to many Ghanaians seeking justice from traditional and “strong-man” courts as well as resorting to mob justice and spiritual cursing. Demystifying the legal systems of Ghana by removing the wigs and letting Judges and Lawyers look ordinary, would help remove Ghanaians fears about Judges and Lawyers as well as courtrooms and contribute toward increased patronage of the Ghanaian legal services by ordinary Ghanaians; The sight of the wigs used in our courtrooms reminds us of the horrors of slavery and colonialism and our failed attempts to rid ourselves of the colonial mentality imprinted on our collective psyche: the wigs are horrible, intimidating, torturous and repulsive to our ideas of an African identity and distinct culture; The use of the Wig in Courtrooms has lost its appeal in the international arena with many countries stopping the practice for decades and centuries. Progressive countries such as the United States of America, Canada, Australia, etc. have stopped the use of Wigs in their courtrooms many decades and centuries ago; According to the Courts and Tribunal Judiciary of the UK, the dress code for the judicial services and courtrooms has not remained static but continuous to evolve. The Courts and Tribunal Judiciary (UK) indicates that when wigs were first introduced in the UK Court Systems in the seventeenth century, judges who had been used to “sporting their own natural hair”, defied the use of wigs and wigs were never adopted wholesale until 1685; The “Ghana Beyond Aid” agenda of President Akuffo-Addo’s government is yet another bold step towards a decolonized Ghana which provides for its citizens and determines what is best for its citizens without any foreign dictations. But such a bold agenda has been described as a mockery when it is contrasted with the practice of the use of wigs in our courtrooms, depicting colonial mentality; We understand the need for a professional dress code of any professional body, as part of the professional code of conduct. But such a code must be subject to change in line with changes in the needs of the profession and the society that it serves; The delivery of justice is primarily predicated on the use of the human intellect . Therefore, the issues of dress code, nature and arrangements of courtrooms among others are secondary and can be dispensed with if they do not aid in, or even detract from the use of the intellect in the seeking and delivery of justice;
- Ghana inherited the Common Law Systems of colonial Britain when it attained Independent and Republican Status in 1957 and 1960 respectively;
It is our belief and hope that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice will mandate the Chief Justice to set up a committee of experts to review the practice of the use of wigs in Ghanaian Courtrooms and to come out with appropriate recommendations as to whether to remove or retain the practice.
We hope and believe that such a committee will undertake broader consultations with legal professionals (Judges, Lawyers, Paralegals and Legal Associations), expert statesmen and stateswomen, opinion leaders and the general public in order to come out with recommendations that are representative of the views of Ghanaians and the affected professions.
We believe in the zeal and determination of the current administration to build and promote a distinct African identity for our country Ghana, and we hope this review will contribute towards this important endeavor of the government.
Ghanaian citizens who share in our views and wish to see the wig removed in our Ghanaian legal system can sign this petition at http://chng.it/g4bCZj4Q9J
Yaa Asantewa Asante (Juliet Asante)