Friday, September 24, 2010

Leave judges alone…Justice Kludze tells politicians

Prof. Justice Kludze is a retired Supreme Court judge in Ghana

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday September 23, 2010
Professor Justice Paaku Kludze, a retired Supreme Court judge has lashed out at both the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for inciting their supporters to throng the law courts to disturb and threaten the judiciary whenever any of their leading members are put on trial.

“It is a very dangerous trend to malign the whole judiciary because of disapproval of certain decisions. That is the way to anarchy. If cases are not submitted to judicial determination, should we use clubs, sticks, machetes, cutlasses and guns or other lethal weapons to resolve our dispute? There would be a jungle out there.”

Prof. Kludze was speaking at a one-day workshop in Accra yesterday organized by organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a think tank on the general theme “The survival of multi party democracy and the politics of accommodation and tolerance.”

The retired Supreme Court judge who spoke on the topic “Ensuring justice and fairness in conflict resolution”, said “the judiciary is our bulwark against tyranny and arbitrary rule. Those who today would be tempted to seek to interfere with the judiciary must be reminded that they may some day, perhaps not in the too distant future, seek refuge in the independence and integrity of the judiciary for the vindication of their rights and protection of their liberties.”

He said undue interference in the work of the judiciary especially from the executive arm of government is assuming an alarming proportion in the current democratic dispensation adding “there is a creeping culture usually from the executive arm of government putting undue pressure on the judiciary to pander to their wishes”.

He said the executive or other forces do not appear to be successful in muzzling the judiciary because “the judiciary has been unrelenting.”

Prof. Kludze said in any mature democracy the government does not always win all cases it presents before the courts but in the case of developing democracies such as Ghana the government’s supporters think they must win everything and when that does not happen “they try to terrorize and pressurize presiding judges with the sole aim of instilling fear in them.”

“The supporters wear red arm bands, chanting war songs even in the precincts of the courts and openly intimidate our judges. I must say that these are all cowardly acts because the judges have so far been resilient. It is in the interest of our democracy to halt these violent acts.”

The law professor said anytime a judge declines to sit on a particular case does not mean that the judge in question is bias but rather it is done to ensure that the sanctity of judicial administration is maintained.

He said the threat on the judiciary is undermining the country’s democracy and also scares potential investors.

Professor Ken Agyeman Attafuah, a renowned criminologist who spoke on the topic “Political tolerance, political inclusivity and political accommodation as essential elements of multi-party democracy” bemoaned the vindictive nature of the country’s political discourse saying “the rights of political opponents should not change hands simply because political power has changed hands.

He said “we cannot continue to indulge in the cycle of political vendetta and expect that our democracy will develop to the stage that we all want it to be.”

Treating the topic “Agreeing to disagree in the interest of Ghana: A core duty of politicians, media and civil society”, Mrs. Lydia Apori Nkansah a senior lecturer at GIMPA said the bickering and animosity that has characterized the country’s democratic dispensation resulting in tension and negative polarization.

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