Ghana’s judiciary was in the eye of the storm when Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ secret cameras caught judges and court officers selling justice. The few corrupt unworthy judges lost their jobs, and are unable today to lift their heads in society. Tiger Eye certainly put its secret cameras in the courts because of years of accusations of judicial corruption.
But the lead kind of corruption spoken about, bribery, is difficult to prove because the parties involve – giver and taker are both guilty of the crime they commit in darkness for which they risk up to 25 years in prison. The accusations, including of perverse and politically-tainted judgments never seem to abate. Some of them are just evil smear-campaigns led by bad losers.
The U.S Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2021 has revived the debate that often ends in worsening the perception of corruption in the judiciary. But there is some effective remedy that the judiciary must embrace, at least for a category of cases especially public interest ones. The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Dame-Yeboah recently told a gathering lawyers and law teachers that it was necessary to consider allowing television broadcast of such cases and not only presidential election petitions.
The image of the very important institution continues to be battered by criticisms of the conduct and outcomes of public interest and politically-sensitive cases. It was refreshing to hear the prolific legal text author, trainer of judges and justice of the Court of Appeal, Sir Dennis Dominic Adjei argue that allowing the cameras in court ought to be a non-negotiable action.
This is a judge who was recently appointed to the Advisory Committee of the International Criminal Court to join four others from Italy, Serbia, Finland and France to be the body responsible for nominating judges of the ICC. He has again been chosen, among a few in the world, as fellow of the prestigious Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London. Delivering a lecture at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences on Thursday, he stressed that this approach to open justice ensures fairness, accountability and transparency.
He wants Ghana to follow other countries like South Africa, and get funding for live broadcast of all important constitutional, criminal and human rights cases with unfettered access to journalists to cover court proceedings. I dare state that if this is not done soon enough, even the supreme court, however patently unjustified some of the accusations of its unanimous decisions, will suffer a credibility crisis and make it unattractive to the best qualified legal brains.
The Constitution in article 125 affirms that “[j]ustice emanates from the people and shall be administered in the name of the Republic by the Judiciary which shall be independent and subject only to this Constitution. Citizens may exercise popular participation in the administration of justice through the institutions of public and customary tribunals and the jury and assessor systems.”
Let the people see the processes for themselves and hold judges and all more accountable.
That’s My Take.
May 7, 2022
Samson Lardy ANYENINI