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General News of Thursday, 14 January 1999

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Sessional address: Rawlings on the Judiciary

Accra (Greater Accra), 14 Jan. '99 - President Jerry Rawlings today called for the justice delivery system to be re-invigorated and properly focused to cope with the dictates of the modern dynamic economic environment where cases are disposed of in the ''simplest, speediest and just manner''.

He said the justice delivery system has a vital role to play in the ealisation of the national development objectives outlined in the Vision 2020 programme.

President Rawlings said this in his state of the nation address to open the first meeting of the Third Session of Parliament of the Fourth Republic.

He said domestic and foreign investors see the land tenure and aspects of the legal and judiciary systems as serious obstacles and impediments to production and investment.

He gave a scenario in which some investors end up going bankrupt because an injunction has been placed on them over a land dispute by a judge who shows little interest in disposing of the case expeditiously.

''Where is the justice to the investor in this case? Where is the justice to the Ghanaian economy? Where is the justice in the Ghanaian judiciary system?

What is the investor going to tell his compatriots and others about the so-called investment opportunities in Ghana, the gateway project and our vision 2020?'', he asked.

President Rawlings said the government, on its part, will play its role in this matter by continuing the legal sector reforms to enhance efficiency in the judiciary and the legal service and fit it for its new role.

''We shall step up the programme for the modernisation of our court structures as well as our court equipment. We shall strive to improve the conditions of our courageous and dedicated judges''.

He appealed to the Speaker and the Chief Justice to ensure that the judiciary, from the policeman, the lawyer right up to the judge play their expected role free of corruption and unnecessary delays.

President Rawlings noted that eight out of 10 regions now have tribunals, the exceptions being the Upper West and Upper East regions, while 122 community tribunals are in place with 43 of them without resident chairpersons.

A scheme has been worked out between the judiciary and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development for district assemblies to get involved in the provision of infrastructure for the judiciary.