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22.03.2007 General News

Respect our rich customs-Judge

A Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice S.A Brobbey has urged Ghanaians not to allow their religious beliefs or modernity to influence them to disregard the country's rich customs.

He said all the customs had moral objectives needed to promote good behaviour and ensure peace and stability and development in the various traditional areas.

Justice Brobbey made the call at the second Annual Re-Akoto Memorial Lectures in Accra yesterday.

Organised by the Students' Representative Council of the Ghana School of Law as part of the 48th Law Week celebration, the lectures had the theme: “The Role of Chieftaincy in the Constitutional and Economic Development of Ghana”.

Mr Justice Brobbey stressed that even though Ghanaians might feel that those customs were appalling or outrageous there was the need for them to respect the “feel and views” of their framers.

He said it was wrong for the public to agitate for the abolition of customs that they perceived to be contrary to their Christian or Islamic beliefs.

The eradication of such customs, he said must be left in the hands of the chiefs who passed them.

Mr Justice Brobbey said if Ghanaians agitated for the abolition of such customs or derided them “you can affect the sensibilities of the people”.

However, he said, in the case where the custom encouraged crime, it had to be modified.

“We should not condemn our culture because of small mistakes that modernity has helped us to identify” he said.

Justice Brobbey who spoke on “The Role of Chieftaincy in the development of Ghana” said apart from the colonial days to the present period, chiefs had been charged with the responsibility if making suggestions or recommendations for improving or modernizing customary law.

Those responsibilities he said had been emphasized in Articles 272 and 274(3) of the 1992 Constitution as well as Part VII of Act 370 and indicated that the courts too had been given similar customs.

He said Article 39(2) of the 1992 Constitution mandated the abolition of customs which dehumanized people or encouraged people to commit criminal offences while Article 26(2) mandated the prohibition of similar pages.

He said despite these Articles, “any move towards abolition of customs and cultures should be handled with extreme circumspection, failing which may end up indulging in an exercise futility.

On the judicial functions of chiefs, Mr Justice Brobbey said although the law barred chiefs from passing judgment on case, they still settled cases.

He therefore asked legal practioners to debate the issues granting judicial power to chiefs, saying that “let us not turn a blind eye to the issue”.

Source: Daily Graphic

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