Monday, August 23, 2010

Stop attacks on judiciary – Dame

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By William Yaw Owusu

Monday August 23, 2010
Lawyer Godfred Yeboah Dame, has said the ‘undue’ and ‘unnecessary’ politicization of every issue in the country is fast threatening the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

“The judiciary has always robustly acceded to its independence but the unwarranted attack it is receiving from a section of the public is bringing the work of judges and the entire administration of justice into disrepute. This is affecting the democracy we are all seeking to build,” he explained.

Mr. Dame was speaking as a panelist on TV3 Current Affairs programme Agenda hosted by guest presenter Francis Ankrah and the topic discussed was whether or not Ghana’s judiciary is currently under threat.

National Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Dr. Kwabena Adjei at a news conference on Tuesday to show solidarity with the beleaguered Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Betty Mould-Iddrisu who has lost a number of high profile cases against former New Patriotic Party (NPP) officials accused the Chief Justice Mrs. Georgina Theodora Wood and members of the bench of a “grand conspiracy” to ensure NDC lose cases in the law courts.

As a result Dr. Kwabena Adjei warned the NDC will “clean judges” if the Chief Justice did not take steps to do a house cleaning in the judiciary.

He had threatened, “We will clean it if they don’t take steps to clean it. We will clean it and let everybody everywhere blame us for interfering in the judiciary and we will take them on … at the right time, you will see how we clean it. There are many ways to kill a cat.’’

But the young lawyer said the “inordinate” suspicion of judges is coming from what he calls the “over politicization of issues” adding “the fear is unfounded yet some people spread it.”

“Any objective assessment of the judiciary will show that they are performing. Their decisions have advanced our democracy. Largely, they have performed above reproach.”
Lawyer Dame said in law there is nothing like a ‘political case’ and judges strictly apply the law to settle disputes adding they ensure that justice is done “even if heavens fall.”

He lambasted the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) particularly it National Chairman Dr. Kwabena Adjei for bringing the administration of justice into disrepute saying “it was a direct attack on the integrity and independence of the judiciary and he (Dr. Kwabena Adjei) must be taken on.”

“It was totally misplaced and unfounded. There is an appellate procedure to go through but he chose to advocate a radical method of disciplining the judges in a manner that offends the 1992 Constitution.”

He also said the current situation where lawyers from the NDC legal committee proffer advice particularly in the media on who should be prosecuted should be condemned adding “the situation where the NDC legal committee is usurping the powers of the Attorney General must cease”.

Victor Kodwogah Adawudu, a co panelist said the NDC National Chairman was ‘misconstrued’ by the media saying “it was public opinion and perception of corruption in the judiciary that informed Dr. Adjei to come out the way he did.”

He said he said the media also helps to put pressure on judges when they continuously spread rumours about corruption in the judiciary.

Mr. Adawudu said the independence of the judiciary is always guaranteed and that the judiciary is not under any threat.

Kwadwo Asante, Programme Officer of the Center for Democratic Development (CDD) Ghana also a panel member said the forum used by Dr. Kwabena Adjei to address the ruling party’s grievances was wrong saying “he had the right to speak but the tone was worrying. We have a right to question the work of the judiciary but there is a certain way to do it.”

He advised the public not to assess the Attorney Generals’ success as only prosecuting political opponents saying “the AG should be seen to be helping to provide justice for all.”

Mr. Asante said the issue of bias on the part of the judiciary had only surfaced whenever the matter involves politicians saying “the judiciary has helped to consolidate the rule of law but they need to work hard to clear the perception of bias.”

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