2 Supreme Court Nominees Appear Before Appointments Committee

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The two judges who have been nominated by the President for appointment to the Supreme Court Tuesday appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament to be vetted for their new positions.

Justice Anthony Alfred Benin and Justice Joseph Bawah Akamba were nominated by President John Dramani Mahama on Thursday, October 25, 2012 to be considered by Parliament for the position.

For about two hours, Justice Benin, who was the first to appear before the committee, answered questions posed by members of the committee on various aspects of the 1992 Constitution.

The 62-year-old judge told members of the committee that delays associated with the delivery of justice in the country could be avoided if there was collaboration among the Office of the Attorney-General, the Ghana Police Service, the Judiciary and the Prisons Service.

It was only when those institutions came together to review cases on a regular basis that a solution could be found for delays in the courts, he emphasised.

When it was his turn to ask a question, the NPP MP for New Juaben North expressed concern over the legal vacation by judges, stating that the practice should be stopped, since it was one of the causes of the delay in the delivery of justice in the country.

Replying, Justice Benin said there was the need for a thorough discussion of the issue to see if it could be reviewed.

He, however, explained that the legal vacation was to give judges enough rest after they had worked tirelessly throughout the year.

Touching on the death penalty, Justice Benin called for its abolition after Ghana had signed all United Nations resolutions that called for the abolition of the death penalty among all member states.

He explained that the right to life could not be toyed with.

Justice Benin asked whether it would be proper for someone to be executed, only for the truth to emerge that he or she had wrongly been convicted of the crime.

He cited a case in the United States in which someone who had been sentenced to death got justice after 20 years because his lawyers continued to seek justice.

On whether justices of the Supreme Court should let their political affiliations be known to the public, as pertained in the US, he said that would not be in the interest of the country

When he took his turn, Justice Akamba called for the strengthening of institutions in the country, noting that those institutions should be headed by competent people who would assert their independence.

He said it was only when that was done that judicial officials would be able to dispense justice and resist the phenomenon that had come to be known as “order from above”.

On whether the Judiciary should continue to rely on seniority for promotion, Justice Akamba said the Judiciary had evolved a new system in which competence and efficiency were the requisite criteria for the selection of judges for promotion.

He also called for education and sensitisation to overcome child delinquency and urged judges to show some love and concern when dealing with women and children-related issues.

On the prosecution of people who attempted to commit suicide, the 66-year-old judge said the practice was absurd and showed lack of sympathy for such people who rather needed help, not prosecution.

Story: Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah & Abdul Aziz