To build public confidence in the country's Judiciary, members of the Judicial Service have been asked to ensure justice that is efficient, fair and effective.
Being aware that the Judicial Service headed by the Chief Justice Georgina Wood is taking various measures to bring justice to the doorsteps of Ghanaians, President John Agyekum Kufuor observed that “timeliness, transparency, fairness and speed with which cases are dealt with by the courts” is very essential.
Delivering a speech before the commissioning of a state-of-the-art facility that would serve as an administration block and a new court house in Accra, the President stressed that “indeed the effectiveness of the outcomes of a court case are the standards by which quality of justice is measured.”
The plan for the building, which now occupies the space of the old Supreme Court block which was originally built in 1929, had been on the drawing board for years.
The government of Ghana-funded facility comprises a Judicial Service administration block and a Land Investment Court complex which will house five land courts to handle the many land cases that are filed on a daily basis in the courts, a human rights court, an industrial (labour) court and two other courts to handle both civil and criminal financial cases in compliance with the Financial Administration Act, 2003, Act 654.
A Court of Appeal complex which has been completed at Adum Kumasi is earmarked to be commissioned next month while another five-storey 34-courtroom complex is to be sited at Victoriaborg on the 28th February Road in Accra.
President Kufuor asked the Judiciary to commit itself fully to the Latimer House Principles which are a set of guidelines on best practices that governs the relationship among the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
The Latimer House Principles that have been endorsed by the Commonwealth Heads of Government in December 2003, among other things, recognize the delivery of an efficient justice as essential for the realization of the legitimate aspiration of all the people of the Commonwealth.
Georgina Wood narrated that the original Supreme Court building that could house only three Supreme Court Judges and a limited number of administrative staff became overcrowded with time.
She said members of staff at a point had to work from a corridor or a highly congested work space and “Judges have had to share chambers... it is easy to understand how our best endeavours to administer justice effectively were to some extent hampered by these conditions”.
But she was optimistic that the new facility will change the face of justice delivery in the country and as well make Ghana a center of excellence.
The Attorney General, Joe Ghartey, in a remark, mentioned how the country's Judicial System has improved in an unprecedented manner and citing the instance of the martyred Judges, he said “today, no Judge can be punished. Judges judge cases according to their own consciences.”
He maintained that the current Judicial System is strong and independent, an indication that it is possible to have autonomous courts of justice.
By Emelia Ennin Abbey