Judges and Magistrates in Ghana have reacted to the recent criticisms against them by some persons in the country including former President John Dramani Mahama .
The judges say they welcome constructive criticisms but not needless attacks which seek to undermine the integrity of the Judiciary.
Speaking at the annual conference for Judges and Magistrates in Accra, President of the Association of Magistrates and Judges, Justice Henry Kwofie “You all recognise that the Judiciary as an institution and Judges, in general, have been the subject of quite a lot of rhetoric, attacks and judgement of our courts even judgements of the highest court of the land have been attacked and the Judges who delivered the same judgements have not been swerved either.
“In my view, impugning the motives of Judges is actually undermining the integrity of the Judiciary. As a result of these unnecessary and incessant attacks, the Association in the first for about three to four terms has come out to issue statements to correct the erroneous impression and deliberate misinformation and falsehood churned out against the Judiciary.”
“The Association must not be misunderstood to be against criticisms of Judges or the Judiciary. Criticism, if it is constructive, helps to improve any sitting and makes the various actors sit up but that is not what we are seeing lately in the press and the various social media,” he added.
“The Judiciary is not perfect and infallible. However, the proper tools and methods for improving and correcting the work of the Judiciary are through constructive criticisms and superior arguments not acts that targets their personality, undermine their independence, being dishonor to the administration of justice and endanger their security and safety. I pledge the support of the Ghana Bar Association to uphold the noble profession and the honour and dignity that Judiciary deserves,” he said.
Recently, Former President Mahama indicated the brand image of Ghana's judiciary especially the Supreme Court, has been badly damaged.
In his view, the judiciary is lately subjected to public mockery because the people no longer feel they can get justice.
Mr Mahama whose election petition was unanimously dismissed by the highest court of the land after the 2020 general elections intimated that the time has come for the judiciary to undergo self-cleansing but, he added, the current Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah cannot lead that process.
He said these while opening the 2nd Annual Lawyers Conference of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Sunday August 28.
“Recently, so badly has the image of our judiciary deteriorated that many of our citizenry openly make mockery of our justice system and of our justices. The phrase 'go to court' is these days met with derisive laughter instead of hope that one will truly get justice if he went to the court.
“If people are not poking fun about politics and inducement being used to sway the hand of justice in the Lower Courts then it is poking fun and making statements about the 7:0 of the the unanimous FC, verdicts which mostly involve cases of a political nature in our Supreme court, this is an unfortunate but serious development.
“One of the scariest existential threats to any democracy is when citizens think their judiciary holds no value for them or no use to them, this is the security threat that the National Security apparatus tried to draw the attention of the nation to recently but was poorly received by the President and his party.
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“It is scary because it threatens the peace and stability of our democracy and we must quickly correct this fast spreading notion. If care is not taken, we will get to a state where people will have no qualms about taking the law into their own hands because they do not have the confidence that they can get any justice in the system
'There is therefore, the urgent need for the Ghanaian judiciary to work to win the trust and confidence of the citizenry and erase the widely-held perception of hostility and political bias in legal proceedings at the highest court of the land.
“Unfortunately, we have no hope that the current leadership of our judiciary can lead such a process of change, we can only hope that the new Chief Justice will lead the process to repair the broken image that our judiciary has acquired over the last few years.”