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General News of Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Source: citinewsroom.com

Kofi Abotsi wants judges appointed by Judicial Council, not the President

A former dean of the Law Faculty at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Kofi Abotsi, wants the Judicial Council to be empowered to appoint judges.

Under the current dispensation, judges to the superior courts are appointed by the President in consultation with the Council of State or the Judicial Council with Parliamentary approval as the case may be.

But speaking at a session of the ongoing New Year School on the Judiciary and Democratic Consolidation, Mr. Abotsi said the current practice opens the Judiciary up to possible influence.

“I know that there are all kinds of open secrets among lawyers about the complications of appointments, the politicization of appointments, about how sometimes even some judges would like to be seen to be standing politically correct in order to inspire the prospect of appointment.”

“I think we have gotten to that point where the Judicial Council probably should exercise absolute authority in the appointment of judges so that all the allegations of a judge being bypassed because he doesn’t stand well in shoes of a particular government [would stop]. These affect the mindset of independence, and the mindset of whether a judge should look at his law per se or he should look at his law in the light of some expectations for the future,” he added.

The private legal practitioner also bemoaned the high cost of justice in the country.

Kofi Abotsi also insisted that the courts must be allowed to retain monies they charge people instead of paying them into government chest.

“There’s a certain mindset of justice being tasked which I think is problematic. There’s an act which covers it – Retention of Fees Act – and a few other legislation that deal with court fees. The courts themselves are struggling to retain enough of what they take from the public. I think whatever they take 100% should be retained by the courts. But whatever the courts take should be reviewed. I think justice is already expensive when people have to go for lawyers. And if you put that together with all kinds of filing fees, I think justice is ordinarily above the reach of the ordinary pauper. This is something that can be looked at,” he added.