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“All cases and parties before the Court are important and therefore must be given the same level of attention. The parties must be accorded the same level of respect and the issues raised must be considered carefully. I have always insisted that trivial matters do not end up in Court. Serious issues are raised before the Court hence my reluctance to crack jokes on the Bench.”
This is how the recently retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice VIDA AKOTO-BAMFO approached cases when she joined the Bench as a Magistrate rising through the ranks to become a Justice of the Apex Court of the land, the Supreme Court. As a Justice of the High Court, she was seconded to the Gambia to chair a Commission of Enquiry set up to probe the assets of the former President, Sir Dawda Jawara and some selected ministers after the coup d’état led by Yahya Jammeh.
Justice Akoto-Bamfo said her interest in the law was kindled after her sixth form education where she had to accompany her father to Courts around Accra. She recalled her visit to the Nsawam District Court. “There was this lady (a District Magistrate) presiding over the Court with Lawyers bowing etc. I was fascinated. On our way home, Daddy asked; how did you find the lady? ‘Very impressive, I wish I could become like her’. During my pupillage, I was assigned to the late Justice Abban’s Court. His quiet demeanour and respect accorded him by the Lawyers made a deep impression on me.”
Her Ladyship Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo, a Justice of the Supreme Court has retired after 38 years of active service, after delivering her valedictory judgement in a civil appeal between Kwadwo Danquah & 259 Others vrs Anglogold Ashanti in Court.
She read the unanimous judgment in the case she presided, with Her Ladyship the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo, and other Justices of the apex Court present.
The Chief Justice, paid a glowing tribute to Justice Akoto-Bamfo, expressing the “joy and privilege” she and her colleagues on the Supreme Court Bench had in working with her over the years. Justice Sophia Akuffo implored all present to emulate and be inspired by the professionalism, work ethics and quality standards Justice Akoto-Bamfo exhibited during active service.
Her Ladyship the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia A.B Akuffo has charged newly sworn-in Circuit Court Judges to be mindful of their conducts as they influence public perception of the Judiciary.
“Your actions, in and out of the Courtroom, should help shape how the public perceive the institution of justice and determine whether they can trust us to preserve the peace by keeping alive the flames of freedom and justice”, she said.
At a short ceremony in Accra, Justice Akuffo urged the Judges to as well be mindful of the Codes of Ethics of Judges and Magistrates of Ghana, to manage their cases well.
“Our mission is to serve and to continuously find better ways to do so. It is therefore important to manage your cases effectively and efficiently. Undue delays can, and will, lead to backlogs that will hinder effective administration of justice”, she added.
A first Model Child-Friendly Court has opened in Accra to cater for cases related to children. Inaugurated by Her Ladyship the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo, the Court provides a safe environment for children as they interact with the justice system.
According to the Chief Justice, protection of the human rights of children is crucial to the development of every nation, hence the establishment of this special Court which is being equipped to ensure quality juvenile justice delivery and the protection of the rights of minors.
“The special Court is created to recognize and accommodate the physical, developmental and emotional requirements of children and to ensure that they are not overburdened by the trauma of having to go through the judicial system” she stated.
A Justice of the Supreme Court, His Lordship Justice Julius Ansah has charged the National Media Commission (NMC), to address issues of standards and quality in the practice of journalism in the country.
“We need journalists who have the training and skill to operate in this lightning speed media environment without compromising quality. We need media houses that promote and produce content that is ethical, useful and relevant. I hope that you will find ways to address this matter, working with the trade association and the media organizations themselves”, he said.
This was at a swearing-in of 16 out of 18 new members of the Commission. His Lordship Justice Ansah encouraged the newly sworn-in, to carry out their tasks without compromise and to review the Commissions’ operations to make them more effective.
His Lordship Justice Julius Ansah, a Justice of the Supreme Court, has charged newly sworn-in Commissioners for Oaths to act as unbiased witnesses to documents in order to prevent fraud.
“As sworn public officials you play an important role in the prevention of fraud and protection of what is involved by acting as official, unbiased witnesses to some documents. As a result of this, all Commissioners for Oaths should understand the duties and responsibilities of Commissioners for Oaths and properly perform your duties accordingly” he said.
Justice Julius Ansah was speaking at the swearing-in of the first batch of 300 Commissioners for Oaths in Accra, an activity in support of the ongoing exercise by the National Identifcation Authority to verify and register Ghanaians.
Her Ladyship the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo, has cautioned Journalists that their practice of investigative journalism should be in the interest of the public and not for ulterior motives.
“The limit of investigative journalism is privacy and the limit of privacy is the public interest and so if we bear this simple statement in mind, we will not cross lines that will create problems because what is required is a careful act of balancing to reach a perfect equilibrium in a democracy like ours. So far as there are investigative journalists who want to peek into people’s private lives, they must bear in mind the importance of the fact that in peeking into someone’s private life, you are serving a public interest and not just playing mischief”, she said.
She was delivering the keynote address at the 23rd Ghana Journalists’ Association (GJA) Awards held in Accra, on the theme “State of Investigative Journalism: Boundaries of Privacy and Borders of the Public Interest.
The Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana, Her Ladyship Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo has advocated the linkage of various social interventions and reforms to support the alternative sentencing policy so as to make its implementation effective and efficient.
Speaking at a conference on how to consolidate efforts to enrich the zero draft Non-Custodial Sentencing Bill, she noted that, “there are all forms of social interventions that we must now also connect as a nation because if we don’t do so for the whole activity and you leave bits, they would continue to harm and draw down the effectiveness of what you want to do…’’.