The nominee for the position of the Chief Justice (CJ), Justice Sophia Akuffo has underscored the need for continuing judicial education to dispel the perception of the public on workings of the judiciary.
She was responding to a question posed to her by the Minority Chief Whip Muntaka Mubarak on what could be done so people will not see ruling by judges as politically motivated when she appeared before the Appointments Committee.
The concern she noted was one in every country and the best means in addressing that ‘’is through continuing judicial education into judgement writing techniques, what you should consider, what you shouldn’t consider.’’
‘’We all continue being educated…We are to be educated, we are to be trained, we are to be oriented, we are to be re-oriented, and that is also an important part of institutional improvement and development,’’ she said.
Parliament has been admonished to desist from slashing budget allocated to the judiciary.
The nominee for the position as Chief Justice, Justice Sophia Akuffo made the appeal when she appeared before the Appointments Committee on Friday.
In her view, slashing the budget approved and allocated to them will hamper their work.
“If we get all the money that we need to do the work that we need to do it will ensure that all the more, sooner rather than later, we will be able to do all the training we need to do for judges [among others] so that we improve on the quality of service from the lower courts all the way up. We will be able to provide all the facilities that are prerequisite for running a good court where everything works as it should be with good technical assistance and research for judges and all that to come up earlier in judgements.’’
She has also promised to ensure that each 216 district in the country gets a court to improve upon justice delivery in the country.
"Every district is supposed to have a court" she said adding "we will go through the necessary steps to make sure that indeed every district is adequately served with a district court".
The president’s nominee for the position as Chief Justice (CJ), Sophia Akuffo says contempt of court is intended to protect the sanctity and integrity of the court and not to gag anyone.
She explained that summoning of individuals and institutions, in some cases, for contempt cases is strictly to protect the “sanctity and integrity of the judicial process”.
She made the comments when she appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament.
A nation without a good justice system could easily break down, she said when she was asked of the infamous Montie 3 saga.
“Contempt of court is not to gag anybody,” she said. “Its focus is on the protection of the sanctity and integrity of the judicial process,” she added, explaining that “not even [to protect] the individuals who were offended”.
Justice Sophia Akuffo will take over from current Chief Justice Theodora Georgina Wood who retired on June 8, 2017, if successfully approved by Parliament.
The President is enjoined by Article 144(1) of the 1992 Constitution to appoint a replacement for the CJ position in consultation with the Council of State and with the prior approval of Parliament.
Chief justice-designate, Justice Sophia Akuffo, has pledged to work hard and ensure that the judiciary delivers its best.
Appearing before Parliament’s Appointments Committee today [Friday], she said, quality judges and quality justice delivery for all Ghanaians would be her vision for Ghana’s judiciary if approved as the country’s Chief Justice.
“Quality judges delivering quality justice for all in accordance with the constitution and doing it with the optimal application of technology of whatever sort that will help in delivering quality justice.”
This she noted will entail effectiveness, saying “Effectiveness is one of the characteristics of quality justices. It covers the assurance [that] the public have; that.. when they come to the hall of justice they will receive justice”.
She added, ‘’I am always interested in continuous improvement. Delay in completion of cases is a problem [but] I believe a lot has been done over the years.
‘’I am interested in effective quality justice because it covers the assurance that the public has that when they come to the hall of justice they will receive or access justice. There is still a lot of work to do that is one of the continuous areas I am willing to work on.’’
Sophia Akuffo had her Masters in Law (LLM) from the Havard University in the United States. She has been a member of the Governing Committee of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute and the Chairperson of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Task Force. In January 2006, she was elected one of the first judges of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights initially elected for two years, she was subsequently re-elected until 2014 and is at present serving as Vice-President of the Court. She has written The Application of Information & Communication Technology in the Judicial Process – the Ghanaian Experience, a presentation to the African Judicial Network Ghana (2002). If confirmed by parliament Justice Sophia Akuffo will be the fifth Chief Justice under the fourth republic after; Isaac Kobina Abban who served between 1995 to 2001. -
Justice Sophia Akuffo, the Supreme Court Judge who is expected to take over from the retired CJ, Theodora Wood has kicked against suggestions for the Ghana Law School to be scrapped.
Private legal practitioner and a senior member of IMANI Africa in January 2017, called for the school to be scrapped made an examination body.
The member of pressure group OccupyGhana wrote on Facebook: “…Please act now!!! Scrap the Law School and make the GLC an examination body.
“There is no real debate. The GLC must become an examining body like ACCA or ICA not a school. Legal education must not be fettered. No one must be restricted from becoming a lawyer. There will never be an overproduction of lawyers. Bad lawyers will always lack clients. Good lawyers will always have clients."
But when she was confronted with the question at her vetting today [Friday], the woman who will be Ghana’s second female CJ said she does not subscribe to that suggestion.
According to her, the Ghana Law School provides practical and professional training for its students whereas, the various universities with law faculties only provides theories for students.
‘’I am not one of those who subscribes to the Ghana School of Law being scrapped. What happens in the Universities at the faculties of law is that, they educate people academically on the law as a theory, on knowledge of the law. That is what faculties of law do. The Ghana School of Law is a professional training facility and that is where the theories learnt in classroom are supposed to be taught from a more practical point of view and that is how it has been,’’ she explained.
She said, once you are at the Ghana School of Law, you are taking through a more practical training and how one is able to marshal enough evidence in a case.
She further suggested for the various faculties of law at our universities to have courses that are going to be professional focused because ‘’it is not everyone with LLB who has to become a lawyer…When you want to called a professional lawyer, then you have to come to the professional school,’’ as applied to other professions.
‘’It is a profession and you need to learn to become a professional and at the moment, the only institution authorised to provide that is Ghana School of Law,’’ she added.
The nominee for the position of the next Chief Justice, Justice Sophia Akuffo has described the advertisement by lawyers on social media as distasteful.
She was responding to a question before the Appointments Committee of Parliament and what she makes of the advertisement by lawyers on social media.
In her answer she said, personally she sees the action as distasteful.
Her response is coming on the heels of the three year ban placed on Human Rights lawyer, Francis Xavier Sosu by the General Legal Council.
The renowned lawyer according to the Council was suspended because GLC, on June 1, 2017 because it found him guilty for overcharging a client and also violating the legal profession’s code of conduct that prevents lawyers from advertising their services.
Responding to the question, Justice Sophia Akuffo said, if you want my view on advertising on social media, personally I am a 67 year old woman. I’ve been at the bar since 1973 or 1974 and I believe the dignity of the bar is as important as the judiciary and the idea of lawyers putting themselves on social media is personally distasteful to me.’’
She further explained the law state it clearly that such an action is improper for lawyers.
The General Legal Council she stressed frowns upon advertisement by lawyers on social.
Lawyers she concluded can have and put themselves on a website.
The Ministry of Transport has directed the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) to suspend, with immediate effect, the introduction of Smart Drivers Licence and Vehicle Registration Cards slated to take effect on July 18.
A letter dated June 14, 2017 ordered that the two projects should be suspended until the necessary approvals have been sought.
The letter signed by sector Transport Minister, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, was addressed to the Chief Executive of DVLA, Kwasi Agyemang Busia, and copied to the Vice-President Alhaji, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, Chief of Staff Madam Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, and Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo.
Ministry and Cabinet approval needed
In the letter, the Minister explained that “I wish to refer you to the discussion I had with you on the subject for which drew your attention to the need to obtain approval from the Ministry and Cabinet before implementation of such major projects.”
DVLA to present Memorandum to Ministry
Asiamah asked DVLA to submit a memorandum on the projects to the Ministry to enable him to undertake some consultations and seek the necessary approval from Cabinet.
Concerned Drivers Association threaten demo
Members of the Concerned Drivers Association have threatened to stage a demonstration on July 10, against the government for the planned introduction of the new of Smart Drivers Licence and Vehicle Registration Cards.
They alleged that the Smart Drivers Licence would cost GH₵450.
The DVLA admits that the new license expected would cost more to obtain but did not provide figures since it is yet to fix the price for the new licence.
DVLA Chief Executive on cost of new licence
DVLA Chief Executive, Busia, had said the existing charges would not quite cover the cost of producing the upgraded ones.
According to him, factors, such as the speed in producing the new licences, and its improved quality and security features would hike the costs.
The new licences are expected to be delivered within four weeks of application.
He revealed that DVLA would no longer contract private firms to print the drivers’ licences or documents such as roadworthy certificates.
Busia also revealed that the Authority had procured its own machines for printing such sensitive documents.
Benefits of new license
Under the new procedure for the acquisition of driver’s licence, applicants could receive their licences within three to four weeks.
Applicants whose licences are ready would be notified through a call before the delivery date.
The new procedure for the acquisition of driver’s licence is expected to reduce the time and challenges that people who apply for driver’s licence go through.
The new procedure is also expected to help reduce the issue of fraud and exploitation of people in the acquisition of the driver’s licence.
Busia said his vision is to help improve upon the service, raise public confidence and improve upon the image of the Authority.
He said his vision is also to help build a strong human resource management department that could help staff to plan their progression and development in the service and create a transparent system for the appreciation of hard work.
Source: The Finder
The journalists who were prevented from covering court proceedings in the J.B. Danquah-Adu murder case on Thursday at the Magistrate Court in Accra, have decided to send a formal petition to the Association of Magistrates and Judges, to complain about the conduct of Her Worship, Arit Nsemoh.
According to them, they do not understand why the Magistrate, Her Worship Arit Nsemoh decided to prevent them from covering the case.
According to them, that was not the first time a similar incident had happened at the Magistrate court in Accra.
They said during the recent SSNIT versus Ibrahim Mahama case, another Magistrate, prevented journalists from taking notes during the proceedings. They were only allowed to listen to the proceedings and were not allowed to write in their notepads in the courtroom, on the orders of the Magistrate.
Journalists covering the trial of the two suspected murderers of the Member of Parliament for Abuakwa North, J.B. Danquah-Adu were on Thursday morning ejected from the courtroom at the Magistrate Court in Accra.
The presiding judge, Her Worship Arit Nsemoh directed Police officers stationed inside the courtroom to prevent all journalists from entering.
The Police also evicted journalists who were already seated in the courtroom after the two suspects, Daniel Asiedu and Vincent Bossu, were ushered in.
Her Worship Arit Nsemoh gave no reason for her decision.
Graphic Online's Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson who was in court reported the judge also ordered the police to prevent any journalist from entering the court.
The suspects were in court Thursday after the Attorney-General (A-G) had initially filed a nolle prosequi to discontinue the prosecution on May 30.
They were however re-arrested by heavily armed policemen immediately after that court sitting.
The case re-started at the Magistrate Court presided over by Her Worship Efua Sackey, who was currently on leave and hence Her Worship Arit Nsemoh took over.
Mr Wilberforce Asare, Dean of the Judicial Press Corp told Accra based radio station, Class FM that they were preparing the petition and hopefully, it would be presented to the President of the Association of Judges and Magistrates on Friday.
He said the move was to ensure that when journalists return to the court on June 29, when the case would be recalled, they would not be prevented from covering the case.
Speaking to Accra based Class FM in his capacity as President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr Affail Monney said he has spoken to Her Worship Arit Nsemoh about the incident.
According to him, the judge explained that she sacked the journalists from the court because they entered the courtroom with cameras, which was not allowed.
“Our decision to talk to her was predicated on the principle that every story has two sides. And the side she gives was that she didn’t know that journalists were entering the courtroom with cameras and it was in violation with the rules governing court proceedings.”
“So she asked the cameraman to leave the courtroom with the camera, and I asked her if the order for the journalists to leave the courtroom also affected other journalists, especially those from the print, she said no, she couldn’t even identify the journalists but all that she realise was that some cameramen were at the gate and pointing at her, and she felt it was unethical and unlawful and she exercised her powers and asked the police to ask them to vacate the premises."
“She is not against journalists entering her courtroom to do whatever they are supposed to do...".
Mr Monney said the GJA will continue to investigate and find out the exact circumstances which surround the issue.
Asked if the police used their discretion to ask journalists who were already seated in the courtroom to also move out, Mr Monney said according to the judge, “she was taken aback when she saw the cameraman already at the gate already filming, so she asked that the cameraman should leave but she did not ask other journalists to leave the courtroom, because she felt journalists have the right to report,” Mr Monney said.
A former presidential staffer and MP for Builsa South, Dr. Clement Apaak bemoaned the difficulty at which mental health patients seek care.
He has described the situation as appalling, and therefore calling on the government, Parliamentary select committee on Health and all stakeholders to help support mental health by ensuring that, more and modern mental health facilities are built in the Northern sector to ensure that patients’ have easy access to mental health care.
He made the call when he made a presentation on the floor of Parliament few days ago.
He said, despite the passage of the Mental Health Act, 2012 (Act 846), which among others seek to provide access to primary care for mental health and mental health facilities in the deprived parts of the country has not been met, five years on, since the law was passed.
“Mr. Speaker, we can’t live in a peaceful and freer country without addressing our mental health challenges. The bridging up of mental health facilities in the northern sector of the country and the modernization of all mental health facilities across the country is a must”.
“I reiterate my call on government to as a matter of urgency release funding for the Mental Health Authority to carry out its activities and work to achieve its aims and objectives”. Hon. Clement Apaak has urged.
In a country, where Mental health facilities are in deplorable conditions, and most invariably we view mental diseases as spiritual courses, the need to tackle mental health is now, than ever before.
The importance of mental health care cannot be underestimated since its ramification affects all and sundry. Challenges of mental health delivery like any other health challenge are varied and complicated. Anybody can be at risk of one mental health condition or the other”.
He added: “Mr. Speaker, cases of mental related suicide cases are on the rise in recent time. A case in point is the alleged suicide of a final year student of the University of Ghana, Jennifer Nyarko, who allegedly jumped from the fourth floor of her Okuafo Hall Annex A, room 407 to her death on Wednesday 8th March, 2017”
This incidence follows a similar case of a student of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Ghana (KNUST) a couple of weeks ago, Adwoa Agyarka Anyimadu-Antwi, who also allegedly committed suicide.
“Incidentally, Mr. Speaker, the victim was a daughter to our own colleague Honorable Member, may their souls rest in peace. Many other incidences of mental-related suicides, murders and other forms of violence have being reported in the past” He observed.
Mr. Speaker, in Ghana, Mental health issues are considered an inconsequential matter or a spiritual issue and therefore have been relegated to the background to the detriment of mental patients.
It is time we all come together as a country to help fight against mental health by providing the needed facilities and attention to this dangerous but risky canker which is swiftly increasing in the country, especially in the Northern sector,’’ he concluded.
A 26-year old man bedridden since 2011 after a police shot a vehicle he was sitting in, is yet to be compensated by the Attorney-General.
The victim has not received any amount of money although the A-G agreed on an out court settlement for Stephen Arthur.
Doctors say he has zero muscle power, urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, erectile dysfunction amongst others.
Speaking to Kwame Tutu on Rainbow Radio’s Kwame Tutu, he said, he has no relatives and currently on admission at the police hospital with nowhere else to go.
Joy News’ Kwabena Owusu Ampratwum who broke the story in 2011 was also in the studios to throw more light on the incident.
According to him, the state must take responsibility of the upkeep for the victim who he says needs a roof over his head and a capital to sustain him.
Meanwhile, Rainbow Radio's Banahene who is also following the latest twist to the story called on the police administartion and the state to act on the matter with urgency.
Narrating how the incident occurred, the victim said, It all happened through a police officer who shot the young man while he was travelling in a Nissan March on at Bowjiase barrier around Kasoa.
He said, the police had demanded from a friend who he was in the car with money as Christmas gift and the police who was unsatisfied with the amount given him, fired at the car which unfortunately hit the victim and has since paralyzed him over the last six years.
He further revealed that the police prevented a philanthropist from assisting him because they believed it will have negative impact on them.
The A-G had promised to pay the compensation for the victim in March 2016 but it has since not materialized.