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General News of Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Source: Peacefmonline.com

Election Petition: Judges treated petitioners like ‘fraudsters’

Judges have been cautioned to be mindful of their choice of language and the kind of report they file when putting together their written judgements on cases of public interest.

Last year’s election nearly tore the nation apart when the two major political parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) literally fought over the results which were announced by the Electoral Commission (EC).

Three leading members of the NPP; Nana Akufo-Addo, Jake Obestebi-Lamptey and Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia took the matter to the Supreme Court to seek justice. Nine judges were empanelled to adjudicate the case and although the case has ended on an agreeable note, a public interest lawyer has started fishing out the mistakes the judges made.

Dr. Maurice Ampaw has categorically stated that majority of the judges who sat on the case, handled the petitioners in an impolite manner and made them feel like “fraudsters”.

According to him, after carefully reading the final judgment of the judges, he identified several intemperate languages used in writing their final ruling. In an interview with Okay FM Dr. Ampaw first indicted Justice William Atuguba of wrongfully perceiving the petitioners as “criminals” in court. He explained that whilst the petitioners had sought to know from the court why the issue of unsigned pink sheet was trivially treated, Justice William Atuguba, made them feel like fraudsters who were in court for nothing.

Justice Jones Dotse wasn’t left out of the equation. He was also said to have likened the petitioners to chameleons. But according to Dr. Ampaw, before the final ruling was delivered, Sammy Awuku was made to pay a bitter price for daring to describe the judges in similar language.

Mrs. Justice Sophia Adinyira was accused of being part of the clique of judges who classified the petitioners as irresponsible. Little was said about her, but Dr. Ampaw explains that it was unfair to have tagged the petitioners in that terms.

Mr Justice P. Baffoe-Bonnie was also caught in the web of using intemperate language when he openly attacked Mr. Ken Kuranchie of the Daily Searchlight and Steven Atubiga of the NDC labeling them as “mere” humans.

In Dr. Ampaw’s view, it was an unfair and degrading comment Justice Baffoe-Bonnie made considering the fact that it is a violation of their constitutional right.

He ended by advising that when it comes to writing reports for public consumption, it is inappropriate to use offensive language which attacks the integrity of people. He added that if the judges fail to heed to this counsel, then the nation would be heading towards a stage where people will feel the court is a place where intemperate language can be easily bandied about.

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