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02.07.2004 General News

MPs call for more support for Judiciary

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Accra, July 2, GNA - Captain Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey (rtd), Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, on Friday called for more support to improve the conditions of service of the Judiciary in order to solve the problems of shortage of personnel on the Bench. He said there was the need to make the Bench attractive, adding that hundreds of Lawyers passed out every year from the Law School yet many of them did offer themselves for the high position of a High Court Judge.

This, he said, was because of the low remuneration and service conditions of the Judiciary.

The Deputy Minister was contributing to the debate on the Courts (Amendment) Bill, which was read the second time.

The Bill seek to amend the Courts Act 1993, to enable non-lawyers who have acquired the requisite limited training in law to pursue a career in the Judicial Service as Magistrates in the Districts Courts. Capt Effah-Dartey said some courts in the rural areas could not sit because of the lack of personnel and said democracy needed to thrive on a strong Judiciary adding that there was the need to ensure that the Judiciary functioned properly.

Mr Alban Bagbin, the Minority Leader, said the budgetary allocation to the Judiciary was low just like Parliament and called for more resources to be committed to the two institutions.

Alhaji Mohammad Mummuni, NDC-Kumbungu, lauded the idea of career Magistrate, calling it an innovation.

A memorandum accompanying the Bill said the "reason for the main amendment sought by the Bill is the lack of Magistrates to operate at the District Courts.

"The Courts Act, in respect of appointment of District Court Magistrates, provides that a person cannot be appointed a Magistrate unless the person is of high moral character and proven integrity and is a Lawyer of not less that three years standing."

The memorandum, however, said the reality on the ground now indicated clearly that the Judiciary had not been able to recruit young Lawyers as it was hoped, and that at the moment there are only 69 instead of at least 110 Magistrates.

"In the present predicament, upon the proposal of the Judicial Council, Government has accepted that the present arrangement should be altered to enable non-lawyers be trained in the core subjects area of law for two years at the School of Law, after, which they could be appointed as Magistrates," it stated.

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