Accra, Sept. 30, GNA - The Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana (AMJG) on Thursday called on the Government to speed up work on matters affecting their remuneration and other conditions of service. They said: "If on the other hand it is the desire of the authorities that we can only be heard after we have followed the footpath of University Lecturers, Nurses and other workers then we shall learn to do so in the not too distant future".
Mr Justice Yaw Appau, President of the Association, who expressed this sentiment at the 25th Annual General Meeting of the Magistrates and Judges in Accra, added, "members take home-pay is nothing to write home about".
The Association, which was formed in 1979 and has 237 members, is an affiliate of the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association and aims at promoting uniformity of practice and best methods of preventing crime and treating offenders to reform.
It also keeps abreast with development in the law and administration of justice, as may affect the work of members of the bench, among other things.
Mr Justice Appau, who is also a High Court Judge, explained that of late, members' duty and entertainment allowances, which they were entitled to under the existing conditions of service, had been scrapped with no explanation.
He called on the Ministry of Finance or the Accountant Generals' Department to correct the error in order to pay the necessary arrears without any further delay, before something positive was done about their conditions of service as a whole.
Mr Justice Appau stressed that "our silence in our condition of service should not be interpreted to mean that we are satisfied with what we have but it was only that we have shown maturity in our approach." He noted that for some time now the salaries and allowances of Superior Court Judges had been tampered with to the disadvantage of such members contrary to Article 127 Section 5 of the Constitution.
Under the Article, he said, "the salaries and allowances, privileges and rights in respect of leave of absence, gratuity, pension and other condition of Service of a Justice of the Superior Court or any Judicial Officer or other person exercising judicial power, shall not be varied to his disadvantage."
Mr Justice Appau reminded new members of the Association that they had entered an entirely new career, which demanded a lot of decorum and real seclusion, adding "the public will judge you mostly by what they see, but not what you really are".
He urged them to be respectful and humble to everyone in their courts so as to induce reciprocal respect. They should also show understanding of the foibles of men and be tolerant at all times even in the face of extreme provocation.
The President reminded the Magistrates and Judges of their Judicial Oath, which enjoined anyone of the bench to administer justice without fear or favour, affection or ill will.
Mrs Esther Baah Amoako, Executive Director of AIDS Alert, Ghana, who spoke on the theme; "Women, Girls HIV and AIDS", pointed out that punishment under criminal law should be reserved for the most serious culpable behaviour.
She said the "difficulty in applying such laws is that many cases of transmissions occur at a time when the infected person is unaware of his or her own infection".