BY MUNTALLA INUSAH
THE JUDICIAL Service of Ghana on Monday thrilled residents of the Afram Plain with its outreach programme, which attracted massive attention.
The judicial outreach event, organised as part of the efforts of the Service to sensitise and educate Ghanaians to come to terms with what constitutes a crime and its reperccusions at Donkorkrom, was on the theme ‘Justice without barriers; Quality judges delivering quality justice’.
It was also geared toward educating the citizenry on the functions and services of the justice delivering arm of government.
Among the facilitators at the outreach were high profile judges, including His Lordship Justice Eric Kyei-Barfour, an Accra High Court Judge (Commercial Division), Justice James Benuyena Benson, a Supervising High Court Judge, Eastern Region, Her Honour Mrs Abena Oppong Adjin-Doku, an Accra Circuit Court (Gender Division) and His Worship Augustine Akusa-Am, a District Magistrate at Donkorkrom.
Nana Osei Twum Brefa III, Bukruwahene, steered the occasion as the chairman while Samuel Kena, the District Chief Executive for Kwahu Afram Plains North, and Alex Ofei of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), among others, played significant roles.
Addressing the gathering on the topic ‘Education on the Civil Processes in Civil Proceedings and the Sentencing Guidlines of the Judicial Service’, Justice Kyei-Barfour said the court is a ‘citadel of justice’ for anyone whose right and freedom have been encroached upon and that one should not be afraid when a bailiff serves him a writ to come to court.
He also advised Ghanaians to desist from the “I am guilty but I have something to say” syndrome when even they know they are innocent of the case levelled against them.
He said due to the fear of being remanded for further interrogation they quickly pleaded guilty but told the court they “have something to say.”
Don’t pay money for bail
Justice Eric Kyei Baffour also admonished Ghanaians and litigants never to pay money to any court official regarding issues of bail, a development that was greeted with a spontaneous applause.
According to the judge, the court registrar, the clerk, the court officials and judges are paid by the State to work and so any person who demands money before providing service at the court is practicing illegality.
Justice Kyei-Baffour emphatically stated that every transaction at court went with issuance of a receipt.
Justice Kyei-Baffour said it is an offence to engage in such conduct, because in the justice delivery system granting bail to an accused person and its related processes supposed to be free.
He made this known when he was speaking on the topic, ‘Education on the Criminal Justice System and Public Complaint Procedure of the Justice system.
He added that per the 1992 constitution, ” justice emanates from the people, so as judges, we are just custodians of the law.”
Child labour/human trafficking and its offences
Her Honour Mrs Abena Oppong Adjin-Doku, an Accra-based Circuit Court judge, took the gathering through issues of Child Labour and related offences as well as punishment prescribed for offenders under the Labour Act, 2003.
The affable gender court judge also schooled the gathering on issues related to the Human Trafficking Act 2005 (Act 964) and the Criminal Offences Act 1960 (Act 29).
One of the high points of her presentation to the gathering was the point that persons who had knowledge of an illegal activity but failed to report to the police for an action were guilty of the offence.
She also explained to the gathering that a child under 12 years committed no crime, adding that such a child could not be allowed to engage in activities that is beyond her remit either. She also highlighted the fact that a guardian or a parent who exposed his/her child to danger was also liable for conviction.
Justice James Benuyena Benson, the supervising High Court judge in the Eastern Region, also took his turn to apprise the people on some of the dos and don’ts of the courts.
Mr Alex Offei Nkansah, the representative of the National Commission on Civic Education, took the gathering through efforts being made to eradicate child trafficking along the Volta Lake.
We want more
The chairman for the occasion, Nana Osei Twum Brefa III, Bukruwahene, in his closing remarks, appealed to the organisers to hold the programme every three months.
His position was equally collaborated by some of the beneficiaries and went ahead to thank them for the opportunity to educate them on issues regarding the law.