Step up efforts to provide court buildings, accommodation - CJ tells MMDA’s
Metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) have been charged to step up efforts to provide standard court buildings and befitting accommodation for magistrates and judges at the local level
Chief Justice, Ms Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo, who was addressing the 11th Chief Justice’s Forum in Accra yesterday, said the Judicial Service had developed prototype drawings and expandable plans of district and circuit court buildings which would be made available to all MMDAs.
“I have asked the estate manager to have the email addresses of all MMDCEs, so that we send copies of the plans to them to have foreknowledge of what the courts are to look like,” she said, and advised the MMDCEs to map out strategies to find solutions to issues impeding quality justice delivery within their respective jurisdictions.
11th Chief Justice’s Forum
The 11th Chief Justice’s Forum, the first of which was held in 2007, was to provide valuable feedback from users of the courts.
It was on the theme: “Quality justice delivery at the district level”, and it attracted MMDCEs, local government officials, coordinating directors, members of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), NGOs and development partners.
Justice Akuffo, who set the ball rolling with a preamble on how the deplorable state of courts could deflate the confidence of citizens in the justice delivery system, also painted a very disturbing picture of the state of the courts, particularly the district and circuit courts, as depicted during her recent tour of some parts of the country.
She proposed that the new court buildings should use solar energy, instead of being hooked onto the national grid, as a way of conserving energy and safeguarding the environment for future generations.
She expressed disappointment at the absence of the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama, at the forum.
A retired justice of the Supreme Court, Mr Justice Stephen Allan Brobbey, who was the guest speaker, in his address, asked members of the Judiciary to take interest in the happenings at the lower since whatever happened there had a ripple effect on the higher courts.
“The lower courts, such as and the Osu courts, are the face and foundation of the Judiciary and so bear in mind that whatever happens at the lower courts reflects the Judiciary,” he said.
Justice Brobbey, who was once the Chief Justice of The Gambia, also pointed out that if work at the lower courts was well done, it would facilitate the work of the appellate courts, while reducing the number of appeals.
On Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and the delivery of justice in modern times, he emphasised that qualification in ICT must be a condition for admitting people to the Bench.
“Qualification in IT is necessary to research online and so any magistrate or circuit court judge who has no knowledge of IT is in the wrong job and as well quit,” he stressed, adding that current crimes such as money laundering, , telephone thefts, among others, were all IT-related.
Mr Justice Brobbey also underscored the need for training for magistrates and judges, particularly those at the lower courts, on changes in the law.
He stressed the role of MMDCEs in ensuring quality justice delivery at the local level and “the pillars for quality justice delivery in the lower courts lay with you”.
He said in the same way they provided roads and hospitals, providing court buildings was their duty because service to the courts was a self-service.
Making reference to the chamber pot story at the Awutu Senya East District Court during the visit by the Chief Justice to the place, the President of the GBA, Mr Benson Nutsupui, in a brief remark, expressed disappointment at the manner in which he said Ghanaians trivialised every issue and made mockery of it with cartoons.
He gave assurance of the readiness of the GBA to support efforts to bring justice to every corner of the country.