The Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, has asked Ghanaians to disabuse their minds of the perception that the judiciary is under the thumb of influential persons in society, particularly the Executive arm of government and that nobody interfered with its work.
Mrs Justice Wood made the comments in Accra when executive members of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), led by its President, Mr Ransford Tetteh, called on her in the Supreme Court building to formally invite her to be the Guest Speaker at the 13th GJA Awards night scheduled for the Banquet Hall on October 25, 2008.
"Even at my level, I have made it a policy not to ask any judge how he or she is handling any case because of the tendency to misconstrue that to be interference,” she said.
She reiterated that Ghanaian judges were competent and independent in their thoughts and took decisions based on law and no other consideration and that they were bold in their duties.
According to her, in spite of the numerous challenges, the country could boast of a strong judicial system and it was important for the stakeholders to work hard to maintain the peace and stability the country currently enjoyed.
Mrs Justice Wood stated that a five-day workshop for the judiciary and court workers had been organized at the Supreme Court in which some resource persons from Kenya and Rwanda participated to share their experiences with their Ghanaian counterparts.
She said Rwanda lost its entire judiciary as a result of the genocide and was now in the process of recruiting young lawyers to work as judges, adding that “it is very difficult to rebuild from the ashes of destruction.”
The Chief Justice said Kenya held Ghana in high esteem because of the role President J.A. Kufuor played during the violence that characterised the disputed polls in that country in December last year.
She said if the judiciary was destroyed, it would not be easy to rebuild it from scratch and said lessons from the two countries must teach us to protect our national institutions.
Mrs Justice Wood recalled her recent visit to Brazil and said in that country, radio and television stations had been set up as part of the judicial system whereby judicial proceedings were broadcast live, while those from the regions were recorded and broadcast later to give the people a feel of the judicial proceedings in the country.
The Chief Justice said this was a good exercise and the judiciary was considering something like that because it recognised the power of the media in informing and educating the people.
Mr. Tetteh said this year's awards would be unique because journalists from Cote d'Iviore, Togo and the Democratic Republic of Congo would participate in the programme to celebrate excellence in journalism.
He said the media had a crucial role to play in the up-coming elections, just like all the arms of government, in order to showcase Ghana as a model of democracy and good governance.
Mr. Tetteh said the media would support efforts to promote peace in the country and that this year's event was on the theme, “Using the media to promote peace and stability in an election year”.