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29.09.2005 General News

CJ identifies yardstick for constitutional rule

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Accra Sept 29, GNA - The Chief Justice, Mr George Kingsley Acquah on Thursday identified participatory democracy as a yardstick for determining the success of constitutional rule. "Understanding of the basic tenet of the Constitution, rights and obligations, duties and responsibilities coupled with the role of the electoral systems as well as governance institutions is paramount to multi-party democracy," he stated.

Mr Acquah, who was speaking at the national launch of the pocket-sized copies of the 1992 Constitution in Accra, urged Ghanaians to study the Constitution to know and exercise their civic rights, play their respective roles effectively to ensure that institutions of government adhered to their constitutional order. He said knowledge of such provisions played critical roles in consolidating the foundation of good governance and the rule of law that would promote the observance of democratic principles and practices to enhance growth of democracy.

The 190-page publication has a yellow cover with the national flag at the top left and bottom right corners and the Coats of Arms, symbol of State authority, at centre top. The Chief Justice noted: "Knowledge of the Constitution has important implications for developmental goals of the country. It plays a critical role in consolidating the foundations of good governance and the rule of law, thereby promoting the observance of democratic principles and practices and ultimately enhance the growth of constitutional democracy."

He said he was optimistic that the publication would make the Constitution more readily available for reference and study for people to know their rights and responsibilities under the law. Mr Laary Bimi, Chairman of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), said in order for the Constitution to be a living document, there was the need for constitutional studies to form part of the curriculum in educational institutions.

He said the Constitution must also provide some security to the citizenry irrespective of their sect or origin and called on the Judiciary to create confidence in the judicial system. The Judiciary should set the agenda when opportunities presented themselves to interpret the constitutional provisions, he said. The NCCE Chairman expressed disappointment on the violation of human right laws especially in dealing with arrested criminals and called on the Judiciary to ensure the protection of human rights in the country.

He called for more education on the Constitution and appealed to all business organisations to join in civic education. Mr Freddy Blay, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, said the protection of the Constitution was not the responsibility of one arm of government, but the collective effort of all and, therefore, the need for collaboration to integrate the nation.

He said a country governed by a constitution had a future and could attract investment and the Constitution should, therefore, not be seen as a preserve for only Parliamentarians and Lawyers but all. All Shore Limited published the pocketsize Constitution with support from the Ministry of Justice, Attorney General's Department and NCCE.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency Mr Goerge Odamtten, Chief Executive Officer of All Shore, said since the promulgation of the Fourth Republican Constitution about 13 years ago, individuals, institutions and Parliamentarians had at various times had problems with its interpretation.

He explained that Constitutional Experts had asserted that the 1992 Constitution had its letter of the law, spirit and language and must, therefore, be considered as a living organ capable of growth and development.

Mr Odamtten said nothing could be more injurious to the investment prospects of a country than an indictment that the country had no rule of law; that the contractual obligations were meaningless and unenforceable; that the basic law or constitution of the land provided no protection for private property rights or business interests or human rights generally and that the judiciary was inefficient, corrupt and unreliable.

He said there was an urgent need for every Ghanaian to study the Constitution to come to grips with its basic tenets and the intention of the framers.

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