The 38th annual general meeting of Ghanaian magistrates and judges came off on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, at the Labadi Beach Hotel.
The event themed ‘Independence of Judiciary: The way forward’, was organized to deliberate on issues affecting members’ welfare, in-service and out of service and take decisions accordingly.
Delivering the keynote address, the Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo admonished members of the bench to execute their duties fairly and expeditiously since ‘the survival of the state depended on the confidence and faith the citizens have in the institutions of state, especially those that deal with law and order’.
“If citizens know that their crime will be punished, they see no need to take the law into their own hands when a thief is caught. When they believe that disputes will be fairly heard and decided on its merits we will see none of the unfortunate alternative measures that have been known to present themselves when people feel cheated and which are a blight and a disgrace to the calibre of our services,” she said.
She added that: “Property and business rights are protected by us [judges] and when we [judges] do so, we [judges] also open Ghana to more investments from both within and outside the country, and with such investments will come opportunity and prosperity for more citizens and the country as a whole and for the assurance of peace, tranquility and sustainable development.”
President of the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana (AMJG), Justice Victor Ofoe, called on the Chief Justice to address challenges facing members of the bench, such as the reduction in their salaries, security threats, and accommodation challenges.
“It is true that the government has imposed tax which has reduced the take-home pay of judges. That is surely unacceptable [not only] because we are not too sure under what law this tax was applied. All we know is our take home to our wives and children has been drastically reduced. With all respect, we call on Your Ladyship the Chief Justice, to as a matter of urgency, redress this issue,” he lamented.
He also advised judges to be mindful of their language irrespective of their bearings since their language and comportment has been the envy of all other professions. Thus, a misdemeanour by any member of the bench could dent the image of the judiciary as a whole.
“Our language and comportment has been and is always to be unique. Let us be mindful of our language wherever we are and whoever we are dealing with. It is true that our communication gadgets and their applications give us some anonymity but let’s not be misled into any sense of security and by that throw language to gutters,” he added.
A number of retiring judges including Justice William Atuguba, were awarded prizes for their devoted services.