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General News of Thursday, 22 December 2016

Source: citifmonline.com

Judicial anti-corruption compact agreement signed

A signing ceremony of the Judicial anti-corruption compact agreement, which aims at mobilising an army of anti-corruption crusaders in judicial systems worldwide has been signed in Accra.

The compact agreement makes signatories to publicly express their abhorrence to judicial corruption while pledging their loyalty to the principles of professional integrity and ethical conduct in their various careers.

The Judicial anti-corruption compact agreement, an initiative of the International Bar Association, has been developed to mobilise stakeholders in the global effort to eradicate judicial corruption. Ghana is the first African Country to publicly commit to the compact.

Mrs Georgina Theodora Wood, the Chief Justice signed for the Judiciary, while Mr Justice Victor Ofoe signed for the Association of Magistrates and Judges. Mr Benson Nutsukpi, President of the Ghana Bar Association signed for members of the bar.

Addressing the ceremony, Mrs Wood said the signing of the agreement was significant in the annals of stakeholders in justice administration in Ghana noting that 2015 marked the darkest spots in the history of the judiciary in the country. According to her, the judiciary was rocked with bribery and corruption scandals involving Judges and Magistrates, confirming the reality of the perception that corruption was rife in the justice delivery.

She said the incident nonetheless served as “a timely reminder” of the enormous task that the judiciary faced as an institution. Mrs Wood stressed the need to sensitise and inculcate a culture of strict adherence to the highest standards of ethical professional conduct at the formative stages of the legal career.

“Such a move, we believe, will go a long way to ensuring that integrity and forthrightness will become institutionalised within the legal profession in general and the judiciary in particular.” The Chief Justice noted that the compact agreement reiterated the fundamental standards and principles that ran through Ghana’s Judiciary Code of Conduct.

She therefore urged stakeholders to abide by the dictates of the Code of Conduct and the compact in ensuring effective delivery of justice. The Chief Justice described corruption as “misuse of public power for private gain” and said the scourge “encompasses the lack of integrity or propriety”.

According to her, the incidence of corruption and its retrogressive impact on the developmental effort in developing economies could not be underestimated.

She said judges played a critical role in the nation’s fight against corruption, adding that judges and lawyers were naturally expected to be carriers of impeccable integrity and wholesome conduct. Mrs Wood said, for instance, in the appointment of judges, academic and professional excellence and intellectual capability should not be underrated.

“I am of the conviction that integrity, moral purity and ethical values must take centre stage.” According to her an incorruptible judiciary was a nation’s most priced asset but “a corrupt judge is the greatest danger to society”. “No nation can therefore win the fight against corruption within the body polity with an array of corrupt judges, court staff and lawyers.”

Mrs Wood said thus the message that corruption was a most unrewarding pursuit must sound the loudest from the courtrooms through the upright conduct of justice bearers. She therefore commended Mr David Rivikin, President of the International Bar Association for taking the bold initiatives to fight corruption.

Mr Rivikin said fighting judicial corruption meant that all other forms of corruption could be eliminated. Mr Nutsukpi said the GBA’s signing of the compact was an indication that its members ascribe to the ideals of the compact.