Justice Dordzie calls for repeal of death sentence

BY: Musah Yahaya Jafaru
Ms Justice Agnes Mercy Abla Dordzie
Ms Justice Agnes Mercy Abla Dordzie

A nominee to the Supreme Court, Ms Justice Agnes Mercy Abla Dordzie, has called for the scrapping of the death penalty from the country's statutes.

She asked Parliament to repeal the death penalty since Ghana was a signatory to many international conventions which were against it.

Besides, she said, it was in keeping with fundamental human rights to do away with the law.

Justice Dordzie, who is a Justice of the Court of Appeal, was answering questions before the Appointments Committee of Parliament (ACP) in Accra yesterday.

She was appointed as a High Court Judge in Gambia, from November 2005 to November 2009 and has been a Justice of the Court of Appeal of Ghana since July

Justice Dordzie stated that although the courts pronounced death penalty on convicts, there had been no execution in the last 20 years.

"Where we have come to with our relations with international bodies and fundamental human rights, it is about time we changed it. Members of Parliament should think about it for the law to be amended," she said.


Size of Judiciary

Justice Dordzie disagreed with the suggestion that the number of Supreme Court judges should be capped.

She said the larger the number of Supreme Court judges, the better because some of them recused themselves in certain cases.

Therefore, she said, if the number was capped, it would make the empanelling of judges to sit on a case difficult, stressing, "the Supreme Court will be handicapped."

Political influence

Answering a question on political influence on the decisions of judges, Justice Dordzie said judges were supposed to base their decisions on the facts in every case.

"A judge worth his salt will deal with the facts. As a judge, you are supposed to be neutral," she added.

She urged the public to trust that whatever decision the Supreme Court made "is what the law says," and pointed out that if people disagreed with the judgement, they could seek a review.

Corruption

Justice Dordzie urged the Judicial Service to strictly monitor the activities of lawyers to avoid judicial corruption.

She stated that the Judiciary, which was the last resort of justice for ordinary Ghanaians, should be made serene to ensure the smooth delivery of justice.

She urged the police to improve the gathering of evidence to aid the prosecution of cases.

Indemnity clauses

Another nominee to the Supreme Court, Nene Abayaateye Ofoe Amegatcher, said the indemnity clauses in the country's constitution should not be repealed.

He said the indemnity clauses, which gave amnesty for some excesses before the coming into force of the 1992 Constitution, had worked for the country.

Nominee to the Supreme Court, Nene Abayaateye Ofoe Amegatcher

Nene Amegatcher, who is a former President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), contended that repealing the indemnity clauses would disturb the peace in the country as some people would want to get at others.

"It has worked for us. We should leave it so that we live in peace and harmony. It (the repeal) will disturb the peace and tranquility in the country," he emphasised.

Tenure of Supreme Court judges

Answering a question on the retirement age of Supreme Court judges, which is pegged at 70, Nene Amegatcher said changing of Supreme Court judges at regular intervals was not good for the country.

"Once the brain is active and alive, you can work until you are 90 years", he said.

Nene Amegatcher has been a lecturer at the Ghana School of Law since 1994.

He was an external examiner in Law for Polytechnics in the country and chief examiner in Law for the West African Examinations Council’s Ghana Commercial Examination.