A new office complex comprising an administration block for the Supreme Court and Financial and Land Investment Courts was inaugurated by President J.A. Kufuor in Accra yesterday.
The Supreme Court building, originally constructed in 1929 to house only three Supreme Court Judges and a limited number of administrative staff, became overcrowded with time, a situation that compelled some of the staff to work from corridors or highly congested work spaces.
The complex will house five land courts to handle land cases a human rights court, an industrial (labour) court and two courts to handle financial cases.
Inaugurating the building; President Kufuor advised the leadership of the Judiciary to adopt the best practices that govern the relations among the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary in promoting good governance, the rule of law and human rights.
He said the role of the Judiciary in the development and entrenchment of the rule of law and democratic governance was set out clearly in the 1992 Constitution.
The President said in the discharge of their respective functions, the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary were inextricably linked and as such must support each other.
To facilitate .the process of cooperation among the three organs of the state, President Kufuor said the commonwealth Law Ministers had since November 2002 come out with a set of guidelines on the best practices that should govern such relations.
Those guidelines, currently referred to as the Latimer House Principles, had received the endorsement of the Commonwealth Heads of Government since December 2003, he stated.
He asked the leadership of the Judiciary to commit itself fully to those principles and adopt them as the blueprint for enhancing accountability, transparency and integrity within the judicial system.
He said as the leadership of the Judiciary pursued measures to bring justice closer to Ghanaians and build public confidence in the judicial system, it should be mindful of the public demand for justice that was efficient, fair and effective.
"The timeliness, transparency, fairness and speed with which cases are dealt with by the courts and, indeed, the effectiveness of the outcomes are the standards by which quality of justice is measured," he stated.
President Kufuor commended the Judiciary for its efforts toward specialisation and said it was a key strategy for decongesting the courts and speeding up the administration of justice.
The Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Wood, said the new building would put to rest the serious office accommodation problem that had bedevilled the Supreme Court for years.
She said because of office accommodation problems, judges had to share chambers and recalled that at some periods some of the judges had no chambers.
She explained that the best endeavours to administer justice effectively were to some extent hampered by those conditions under which the judges and administrative staff had to work.
She thanked the government and President Kufuor for the immense support to the Judiciary in its effort to construct edifices over the last five years.
The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Joe Ghartey, said the old Supreme Court building represented the past and the new one represented the future of a strong and independent, modern and well-resourced Judiciary.