I will change tag of corruption, inefficiency around Judiciary

By Joyce Danso

Accra, April 9, GNA – Chief Justice Gertrude Sackey Torkornoo has pledged to change the “tag of corruption, ineptitude and inefficiency” around the Judiciary and the Judicial Service.

“We cannot do this without the support and attention of all stakeholders. To shake off these tags, training needs to be supplemented with consistent culture changing strategies to deepen ethical models of work in the courts.”

She was speaking at the launch of a Strategic Framework titled: “LEADing Justice”.

LEAD is an acronym for Law, Ethics, Assets, Due Process and Digitilisation.

The framework of her vision for the Judiciary called for bold and multiplied outlay of paralegal learning to be made available to over 7,000 staff of the Judicial Service Staff and countless professionals who work with the Judiciary to deliver justice.

These professionals include police investigators, prosecutors, mediators, valuers, surveyors, and auctioneers.

The occasion was used to outdoor some models of practice and directions of the courts.

They include practice Directions on Court Connected Alternative Dispute Resolutions under Order 32 as Amended by CI 133, Administrative Direction to aid expeditious disposal of trial by Jury and Administrative Guidelines on generation of suit numbers and guidelines for procedures for online publication of judgements and rulings.

Chief Justice Torkornoo said Judicial administration ought to close the gaps through, which court users were subjected to exploitation and rent seeking behaviour.

“This demands the removal of as much of human inter-facing that the court work is exposed to. Court officials are expected to work with independence, with impartiality, competence, and integrity.

“Much of these ethical values are lost in the heavy traffic of human inter-facing between court officials and court users, including brokers functioning around the courts.”

According to her, the vision of producing culture-changing re-orientation programmes could not be achieved without the active partnership and support from stakeholders, including communities of businesses and donors.

Chief Justice Torkornoo said steps were being taken to revert to the opening and closure of assizes, which ensured that jurors remained with the Judiciary for only a short season.

According to her the current situation where one juror could be attached to the court for years, leaving their full-time work for long periods and earning from both institutions through the same public purse, needed to be “seriously deconstructed.”

“In order to do so effectively, this vision contemplates the engagement of the private sector in the jury services, as is the situation in virtually every country.

“I wish to humbly ask for the cooperation of the private sector in implementing strategies such as this, because we need to increase the ethical content of integrity and efficiency in criminal justice delivery.”

She said twelve Administrative Guidelines and Practice Directions had been stated in her vision statement.

They include Practice Direction on Commercial Pre-Trial Settlement under Order 58 as amended by CI 133, Practice Direction in respect of Prerogative Writs involving Chiefs and Chieftaincy issues, Practice Directions on Adjournments and Adoption of Proceedings in Part heard Trials.

She said the goals of her vision, manuals and guidelines would cover myriad lines of court work.

The Chief Justice said the purpose was to increase transparency, competence, due process, and integrity in court work.

She said in the coming weeks, she intended to call for a Land Conference to discuss the huge number of land disputes streaming across the country.

“As administrator of justice, I deem it my bounden duty to call for such conversations that will assist all of us to break these high walls against the flow of capital and investments into our country because of the uncertainty of security of investments in landed property.

Justice Torkornoo announced that the Judiciary was to embark on digitization of its paper records by building a modern archive centre to store all records emanating from court in a coherent and orderly manner that could be easily retrieved whenever citizens and court users needed them.

She said the Judiciary had also set goals for its digital libraries.

Nana Otuo Siriboe II, Chairman of the Council of State and Omanhene of Asante Juaben Traditional Area, who chaired the occasion, urged the Chief Justice to ensure that more awareness was created cross the country on her vision.