The Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo has cautioned judges and magistrates against paying “thank you money” to judicial officers in appreciation of their work.
She said the practice which has been ongoing for years was insidious and detrimental to the fight against corruption within the Judiciary and the Judicial Service and called for an end to it.
“I know this practice has persisted over a long period, but I believe it is time for us to put a stop to it as Judges, as it contributes to the culture of corruption in our institution. Judicial Service Staff, be they directors, senior or junior staff, are paid by the State to undertake their official duties. Any ‘thank you’ must not go beyond the verbal, and that should be it,” she added.
Speaking at the 39th Annual General Meeting of the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana (AMJG) in Accra yesterday, the Chief Justice explained that the payment of “thank you money” engenders a sense of entitlement which feeds and entrenches corruption.
“We cannot feed the greed of people who are also paid by the government. This usually breeds corruption and we know corruption is destructive and can bring down our country. This payment must be stopped now,” she demanded.
This year’s meeting was on the theme “Judges, Our Health.”
She urged the judges and magistrates to remain committed to their oath to reach our decisions entirely on the bare facts of the case, the law and the achievement of a just resolution.
To deal with the challenge of delays in the delivery of justice, Chief Justice Akuffo noted that the Judicial Service embarked on some Information and Communication Technology (ICT) projects to inject efficiency and speed into administrative and judicial processes.
She said the Service was ready to roll out the paperless system to all courts across the country owing to availability of suitable infrastructure and urged the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and the citizenry to work towards helping to improve court infrastructures.
As the Chief Justice, she said her office would not permit any Judge or Magistrate to work in dilapidated court buildings in the various districts and threatened to close down any court facility that was unsuitable and does not meet the required standard.
In the meantime, she said the Judicial Service was focused on instituting a regular visitation programme to enable the current and future Chief Justices to frequently undertake inspection of all courts facilities across the country.
President of AMJG, Justice Senyo Dzamefe, expressed concerns about delays in the payment of some allowances paid to judges and magistrates saying “it was frustrating and disrespectful.”
He further lamented about challenges with the welfare of members comprising provision of official vehicles, security of judges, furniture, payment of retirement package and other issues and called on the Service to expeditiously find solutions to their concerns.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS