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General News | Jun 29, 2004

Judges urged to be bold

GNA

Accra, June 29, GNA - "A timid Judge is an embarrassment to the (legal) profession" Professor Justice Kodzo Paaku Kludze, Supreme Court Judge, said on Monday.

He said 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."

Justice Kludze, who was delivering this year's Sarkodie-Agyepong-Koranteng-Addow Memorial Lectures, pointed out that Military regimes had 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.

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 lawyers had the ability to undermine good governance and the Rule of Law, by advising, urging or upholding repressive legislation.

Lawyers, he said, might 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.

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