Judiciary challenged to oopen new chapter

.....Justice of the Supreme Court (JSC) William Atuguba, has admonished the Judiciary to use the current crises in the wake of the Anas expose to open a new era, devoid of corruption.

“In the wake of our current crisis, let us open up a new era in our Judiciary, in which corruption, in all its shades, cannot have an influence, actual or perceived,” stated.

The Supreme Court judge was addressing stakeholders in the justice delivery system at the New Court Complex yesterday, on the occasion of the opening of the criminal session, where cases are tried by judges and jury.

He said the event underscored the gravity of the judicial function of keeping law and order in the democratic dispensation, a trust reposed in them by the State.

Justice Atuguba said the execution of the trust required a commitment to the true pursuit of justice by all stakeholders, the judiciary, police, Attorney-General’s Office, media and general public.

He stated that the essence of the criminal process was to set the innocent free and to bring the guilty to justice, adding that the recent storm in the judiciary should teach them a lesson.

Making a biblical inference that the unsatisfactory administration of justice can affect the destiny of a nation, he then declared the criminal session duly opened.

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, said 12 cases had been listed to be tried by jury in the 2015/2016 legal year, and assured that her office would expeditiously carry out their responsibilities.

She charged actors in the criminal justice system to exercise their powers and responsibilities for freedom and justice to prevail in the country.

The Minister said, “continuous erosion of the rule of law, the independence of the courts and the independence of the legal profession is probably the greatest danger in societies like ours, so we must at all times be on our guard”.

She called for measures to restore confidence in the justice delivery system in the wake of the Anas video, where statements have been made on judicial corruption, adding that reforms in the justice sector remained high on the agenda of government.

President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), Benson Nutsukpui, said it appeared that nothing had been done to improve the jury system in the country, hence its near collapse, adding that absenteeism among jurors led to unnecessary delay of criminal trials.

He added that the meagre allowances which were even not paid regularly, and lack of state protection, made the jurors susceptible to influence by accused persons and their relatives.

Mr. Nutsukpui, therefore, called for critical analysis of the system, to determine whether to abolish it completely or improve it.

By Edem Mensah-Tsotorme

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