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02.06.2004 General News

Chief Justice calls for forum on coups

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Accra June 2, GNA - Mr George Kingsley Acquah, Chief Justice on Wednesday called for a forum for all Justices on the African continent to brainstorm on issues concerning the overthrow of constitutionally elected governments as a measure to check the outbreak of wars.

The Chief Justice said there had been a number of wars on the continent because democratically elected governments were overthrown by a group of persons or individuals and stressed the need for the Judiciary to do something about that.

Mr Justice Acquah said there was the need to form a united front to deal with such issues adding, "we need to send signals to such people." Mr Justice Acquah made these remarks when he received Honourable Justice Afolabi Fatai Adeyinka, Chief Judge of Lagos State and other Justices of Lagos High Courts at the Supreme Court in Accra. The delegation is in the country to study the operations of the Fast Track Courts (FTC) System.

Present at the meeting were Mr Ambrose Dery, a deputy Attorney General and a deputy Minister of Justice and Mr Osafo Sampong, Director for Public Prosecution.

He said it was time for Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice to be strengthened to implement the decisions of ECOWAS at the end of its meetings.

Briefing the delegates on the activities of FTC, the Chief Justice said the Court, which was established in 2000, had brought about speedy and sanity in the administration of justice in the country.

He said Accra has six fully automated courts with one each in all the regional capitals. According to him, Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi, were now fully automated, adding that the activities of the registry and other departments were also computerized.

The CJ said as result, cases of the "missing dockets have now become a thing of the past because all pieces of information are fed into computers."

He noted that one constraints saddled by the FTC was inadequate transcribers, adding that, though the training of such persons was expensive the service was trying to train more.

The CJ told the delegates that the Judicial Service was constructing a Six Commercial Court Unit, which would include the activities of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

According to the CJ the establishment of the Inspectorate Division and the Complaints Unit, which sought to monitor activities of judges and staff, was not a witch hunting exercise but to ensure sanity and openness in country's court.

Hon. Justice Adeyinka, Chief Judge of Lagos State noted that Ghana and Nigeria had a similar judicial system because of their colonial masters. He recounted the importance of the ADR system in Nigeria saying cases which dragged on for over 10 years has been dealt with by ADR within two hours.

"Under the ADR system, a judge is appointed to see that all cases are settled and recommendations are enforced," he told the CJ. He said the Lagos State intends to commence the FTC process but they needed to tap Ghana's experiences. Hon. Adeyinka announced the formation of a Bench and a Bar, which had been ironing out issues between lawyers and Judges.

" You need not petition the Chief Justice on the conduct of a lawyer or Judge," he added.

He commended Ghana in ensuring the rule of law.

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