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Lawyers decry 'unfair' social media attacks on Ghanaian judges

Lawyers decry 'unfair' social media attacks on Ghanaian judges

Court

The bar association in Ghana has charged citizens to be constructive in their criticisms of members of the bench especially relating to social media attacks on judges and magistrates of the courts.

President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), Benson Nutsukpui says constructive criticisms of judges is the only way to safeguard the integrity of the judicial system and to ensure that integrity is not compromised.

The GBA said it was in principle not against criticizing judges or their judgements but emphasized that abusing judges purely with the aim of inciting public disaffection for them was unacceptable.

Today, social media has become a popular platform to mount intense attacks on our judges.

“Today, social media has become a popular platform to mount intense attacks on our judges. While citizens have the right to take on judgments of the courts, it is absolutely unacceptable for those criticisms to be rendered in sensational and purely abusive manner with the primary aim of inciting public disaffection for our judges and undermine the integrity of the judicial system,” president of the GBA said.

He was speaking at the 34th Martyrs Day celebration in Accra, the day is a very crucial one in Ghana’s judicial history as it commemorates the gruesome killing of three top judges during the revolutionary era.

The three judges, Justice Fred Poku Sarkodie, Justice Cecilia Koranteng-Addow and Justice Kwadwo Adjei Agyepong were shot and killed on June 30, 1982. Their statues are mounted in front of Ghana’s Supreme Court complex.

Election 2016 and Rule of Law

The bar association president also called on the public to uphold the tenets of rule of law before, during and after the upcoming 2016 elections.

“It is my hope that we rededicate ourselves to the ideals of rule of law which we so gallantly uphold. As we approach the 2016 parliamentary and presidential elections, I cannot but encourage citizens, public and state institutions to recommit themselves to the ideals of rule of law thereby ensuring that the upcoming elections takes place in an orderly and peaceful environment,” local news portal citifmonline quoted him as having said.

Ghana’s judiciary got a ‘harsh beating’ earlier this year as a result of an investigative piece aired by the country’s top investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas. The piece titled ‘Undercover in the Eyes of God’ exposed high level judicial corruption.

The piece published in video, print and online, chronicled systemic and orchestrated fraud and corruption all through the judicial gamut and led to public outcry and disbelief at the sorry state of the third arm of Ghana’s governance structure.

As a result of Anas’s work, several lower and High Court judges who were found guilty of collecting bribes to influence cases, have since been sacked as the investigations continue.

Upcoming elections

Ghana, known for its stable democratic credentials head to the polls in November and the current president and the ruling party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) would be facing the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), in a keen contest.

Among the key issues that are being debated strongly are the power crisis in the country which is adversely affecting households and businesses, issue of corruption and also youth employment.

The last elections in 2012 ended up in the country’s Supreme Court after the opposition alleged malpractices, the court’s panel ruled that the president was validly elected but requested the Electoral Commission to undertake massive reforms to make its processes more transparent and credible.