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24.04.2004 Regional News

Parliamentary Select Committee inspects courts In Upper East

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Bawku (U/E), April 23, GNA- Alhaji Malik Alhassan Yakubu, Chairman of the Parliamentary select committee for the judiciary on Thursday described conditions of service of the judicial service as "feeble and unattractive", saying this could have adverse effects on the country's democracy.

He said the dispensation of justice runs concurrently with the democratic dispensation of the country, and that provision must be made to ensure that the working conditions of judges especially, made attractive.

Alhaji Yakubu said this, when he led the Parliamentary Select Committee to inspect a number of courts in the Upper East Region. The committee is to assess the conditions of the courts and to make the necessary recommendation and lobby for special attention for the judiciary.

He said as an arm of government, the judiciary is one of the worst deprived in terms of working conditions including residential and office accommodation, adding " where is the honour when a judge would have to attend to nature's call at a KVIP or share the same toilet facility with his subordinates?"

The chairman said for the first time in many years the annual budget for the judicial service has been approved in full and that the budget of about 25 billion cedis considered for procuring means of transport for the service, judges, as well as the refurbishment of some selected courts.

Alhaji Yakubu said the committee has identified the three Northern Regions as the worst deprived in terms of justice delivery and that the committee would work tirelessly to ensure that an improvement of the working condition of the judicial service is achieved.

The committee inspected courts in Sandema, Navrongo, Bolgatanga, Zebilla and Bawku. It came up that most of the court facilities were structures abandoned either by the District Assembly or other organizations and given to the judicial service for use. Most of the structures were seriously leaking; paintings on some of the structures were faded and infested with bats.

The Bongo and Bolgatanga Magistrate's courts are housed at the District Assemblies halls and sittings have to be suspended whenever the assemblies had meetings.

Similarly, at Bawku, the Magistrate's court shares its premise with the social centre and sittings have to be suspended for social gatherings.

The Committee members called for the immediate demolishing of the Sandema Magistrate's court describing it as a death trap and inhabitable.

They therefore, called on the Builsa District Assembly to support the judiciary by constructing a new court structure for the Service. Earlier, the committee met the District Chief Executives, Presiding Members and District Co-ordinating Directors at the Regional Co-ordinating Council (RCC) in Bolgatanga and impressed on them to consider the provision of court building in their budgets. The assemblies were further urged to furnish some residential homes and offices of judges of the various courts.

Mr. Odame Adufu, a Magistrate at Bolgatanga who briefed the committee on the service in the region said the region has only two resident Magistrates and that they have been given additional responsibility to handle other courts in Sandema and Bongo, while a circuit court judge in Bawku takes care of the Bawku Magistrate's court. He appealed to the committee to include air conditioners in the homes and offices in their recommendations to parliament adding that the region was "too hot and that most of the judges' worked at home after court sitting". 23 April 04