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29.06.2004 General News

Military Rules have undermined good governance - Kludze

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Accra, June 29, GNA - Professor Justice Kodzo Paaku Kludze, Supreme Court Judge, observed on Monday that military interventions had repeatedly halted the nation's experiments in establishing democratic rule.

Justice Kludze, who was delivering this year's Sarkodie-Agyepong-Koranteng-Addow Memorial Lectures, pointed out that those regimes had also frustrated the country's progress towards good governance.

The two-day lecture has as its theme: "Ghana In Search Of Good Governance"

The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) instituted the lectures 22 years ago in memory of three High Court Judges, who together with a retired Army Officer, were abducted from the safety of their homes and murdered at the Bundase Military Range in the Accra Plains on the night of June 30, 1982.

The Judges were Mr Justice Fred Poku Sarkodie; Mr Justice Kwadwo Agyei Agyepong and Mrs Justice Cecilia Koranteng-Addow, while the Army officer was Major Sam K. Acquah (retired). Revolutionaries at the time murdered them and for their lack of courage, attempted to conceal the crime by burning the remains of the four martyrs.

Justice Kludze charged members of the legal profession to re-dedicate themselves to the ideals, which made their murdered colleagues symbols of democracy and good governance. Furthermore, he said, they must ensure their full commitment to the principle of the Rule of Law, and the indispensability of an independent and robust Judiciary.

He pointed out that no nation could survive, let alone succeed, in the deliberate state of lawlessness.

"Ultimately, the nation must re-discover its proper bearings and anchor the ship of State on the time-tested, solid foundations of legality and accountability", Justice Kludze stressed.

He pointed out that nations of the world regarded as successful models, did not develop under the iron heels of military rule.

Rather, he observed, they were countries with long histories of liberal democracy, adding; "it is only in a free society that the genius of the people can flourish; it is only in a country with good governance that a sound economy can be developed and sustained".

Justice Kludze was of the view that the nation could chart its own course of political independence if only the military would remain in the barracks.

He stated that as a people, Ghanaians could not expect good governance, unless there was established the principle of the Rule of Law.

The Supreme Court Judge explained that the powers of government should not be exercised arbitrarily, adding that the laws must respect the basic and essential humanity of citizens and advance and protect their basic rights and freedoms.

Justice Kludze noted that the concept was not static, since it kept on changing in content and scope, as well as effect, over generations and epochs in human history.

Simply put, he said, the concept "changes with the advance of human and social values," adding, however, that it remained a concept by which good governance may be measured.

He referred to the Convention People's Party and the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) Regimes as classic examples of eras when the rulers in the guise of practising the Rule of Law, appeared to be dictators.

For example, he said, even though the Preventive Detention Act of Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah was accepted as a valid piece of legislation "for order and good government, it empowered another human being to imprison a fellow human being without trial, without a charge and with no recourse to the courts.

In the era of the PNDC, he said, those who had unlawfully seized power, arrogated to themselves, by the force of arms backed by a self-proclaimed series of legislative acts, the power to arrest and imprison fellow Ghanaians without trial.

Turning to the role of legal practitioners in ensuring the entrenchment of the Rule of Law in society, Justice Kludze noted that the legal profession "is and will remain critical in the nation's search for good governance".

He, however, pointed out that the same lawyers had the ability to undermine good governance and the Rule of Law, by advising, urging or upholding repressive legislation.

Lawyers, he regretted, may also manipulate the judicial system to enlarge or curtail the rights and freedoms of the citizenry. He suggested that the disciplinary authority of the Bar be strengthened to ensure a minimum commitment of members to ethical standards. Justice Kludze stated that the primary role of members of the Bar in consolidating constitutionalism was to be fearless advocates of the fundamental rights of the ordinary citizens.

"Without a fearless Bar, the rights of the people will be trampled upon and justice will not be done," he noted.

He charged the GBA to adopt a policy of holding accountable those Lawyers who "assist in the imposition or installation of unconstitutional rule."

Justice Kludze made it clear that the largest obstacle in any nation's search for democracy and good governance was the military factor.

He, therefore, suggested that after the restoration of a constitutional rule, Lawyers, who collaborated with the military to trample on the fundamental human rights of the citizenry, needed to be disciplined and sanctioned by the Bar.

On Judges, Justice Kludze was of the view that for good governance, there was the need for Judges, who were not afraid to make pronouncements on the law as they saw it, adding, "a timid Judge is an embarrassment to the profession."