Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, October 1, 2015
The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has waded into the ongoing debate over whether or not the Biometric Voter Register (BVR) should be recompiled, saying the Electoral Commission (EC) should not be pressurized into making premature decisions on the matter.
“The Bar cautions against any hasty, poorly informed and premature decisions of the Electoral Commission that could compromise the search for an enduring solution that could advance national interest; and further affirms that a trustworthy voter register and effective monitoring of electoral activities underlie public trust and confidence in election results,” the association stated in a resolution passed at this year’s Bar Conference held in Kumasi recently.
The resolution, which was jointly signed by GBA President, Nene Amegatcher and its Secretary, Justin Agbeli Amenuvor said, “The GBA lauds the approach by the Electoral Commission in its effort at resolving the impasse concerning the controversy arising over the integrity of the national voter register.”
The GBA said it had noted with ‘grave concern’ the recent reported corruption scandal concerning the staff of the Judicial Service and said it had directed the National Executive Council to offer “any needed assistance” to the Judicial Council to ensure that the scandal is handled “with utmost care to restore the reputation of the justice delivery system.”
It declared its total support to the Chief Justice and the Judicial Council in the fight to protect the institutional integrity of the judiciary and to ensure that judges and other judicial officers live above reproach.
The GBA urged the Judicial Service to ensure that persons appointed to administer the law, including judges, registrars, court clerks and bailiffs, make it their avowed aim to abide by Article 40 of the Magna Carta not to sell, refuse or delay right or justice.
It insisted that “The rule of law and access to justice cannot flourish in our society if those who man our judicial system lack moral and ethical integrity.”
The resolution further welcomed the invitation extended by the Chief Justice to “all well-meaning persons to assist the judiciary to restore and rebuild the image of the judiciary through constructive engagements with both the Judicial Council and the General Legal Council on the burning issue of corruption.”
GBA continued, “The Bar appreciates the determination of the judiciary to reorganise some of its internal structures, its appointing and disciplinary processes, as well as the supervisory mechanisms for administering courts and developing performance evaluation instruments as a means to ensuring that there are credible models for determining efficiency and competence in adjudication.”
Exorbitant Court Fees
The association expressed concern over what it called “the exorbitant filing fees,” saying it risked “making access to justice the preserve of the rich.”
It called for “drastic downward review of the current fees to make it possible for even the indigent to have easy access to justice,” adding that members were awaiting “the decision of the Chief Justice to refer its petition on the matter to the Rules of Court Committee.”
Ethics Of Lawyers
They also implored the General Legal Council and the Judicial Council “to increase efforts to improve the ethics of lawyers and judges alike thus deepening the trust in the judicial system and giving citizens engaged in economic and social activities the assurance that they can obtain fair treatment before the justice system.”
On other national matters, the GBA condemned the growing spate of examination leakages in Ghana, especially the BECE and WASSCE organised by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and called on the Council to ensure that such incidents do not recur.
“The Bar calls on WAEC to make public what led to the leakage of the 2015 BECE and measures taken so far to avoid its re-occurrence,” it stated.