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06.09.2002 General News

Public lashes out at Judiciary, Police

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THE Judiciary and the Police Service came under criticism at a public forum at Koforidua on Wednesday, when a section of contributors accused personnel of the two state organisations of engaging in massive corruption in the discharge of their duties.

They suggested that the only way out is to transfer judges and policemen after they have stayed at specific places for three years so that they do not become “citizens” of these areas to be easily bribed.

The forum, which was part of a regional public hearing organised by the Parliamentary Committee on the Judiciary on perceived corruption in the Judiciary, was initiated by Parliament and the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Immediately the chairman of the committee, Mr Kwame Osei-Prempeh, invited the public to the floor to express their views on the issue after explaining the rationale behind the exercise, 14 out of the 16 contributors said corruption in the two institutions has been on the increase despite the government's war on the canker. Some of them became so emotional and bitter when they narrated their harrowing experiences and attempted to mention the names of some judges, whom they alleged, took bribes from them.

They were, however, restrained by Mr Osei-Prempeh, who explained that judges and policemen were not on trial and that the committee only wanted to find out whether the two organisations were really weighed down by corruption and advised them to have discussions with the committee in camera later.

A young man, Mr Douglas Gyasi, said he was framed up by his former employer, a foreigner, but when the case went to court, the employer allegedly paid ¢40 million to be shared between the presiding judge and others at the court after realising that he, the employer would not win the cases.

Some of them also said both complainants and the accused or defendants had to pay bribes to policemen and judges who handle their cases.

Other contributors, who said that not all judges and policemen take bribes suggested that the government should consider increasing the salaries and allowances, particularly of policemen so that they do not look elsewhere for additional income, which can only be obtained through bribery.

In his introductory remarks, Mr Osei-Prempeh, who is also the NPP Member of Parliament for Nsuta-Kwamang said of late, the public, with a perceived view that the Judiciary is corrupt, seem to have lost confidence in it and that has necessitated the organisation of the forum to find out whether corruption really exists in the Judiciary or it is only a perception.

The NDC Member of Parliament for Kumbugu, Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, who is also a member of the committee, said although people have the notion that the entire Ghanaian society is corrupt, the Judiciary is being tackled first due to its important role in the adjudication of cases. A representative of the CDD, Miss Victoria Gyasi, said her outfit, which is an independent, non-partisan and non-governmental research centre dedicated to democratic development in Ghana and Africa, is delighted to be collaborating with the Parliament any committee on Judiciary on the issue.

She said the CDD seeks to foster the ideals of society and government based on the rule of law and integrity in public affairs.

Earlier in a welcoming address, the Eastern Regional Minister, Dr Francis Osafo-Mensah, said the government recognises that respect for the rule of law needs to be buttressed by the relevant institutional structures, the most significant of which is an impartial Judicial system for the adjudication of cases.

He said the government will, therefore, provide the necessary facilities in that respect for an efficient, impartial Judiciary, which is independent and free from political interference.

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