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The Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Justice Sophia A. B Akuffo, has advised young people to serve Ghana with integrity and be committed to its growth.
“As a fledgling constitutional democracy with a growing economy, there is no end to the avenues in which the law can be applied to serve the state and the citizens in it. We need diligent practitioners to help protect the rights of citizens, mediate conflicts and settle disputes. Whether you choose the Bench or the Bar, your main preoccupation must be to serve the nation with integrity and the wholehearted commitment to its growth”, she said.
Justice Sophia Akuffo was speaking on the theme “I Pledge Myself to the Service of Ghana”, at 11th edition of the Chief Justice’s Annual Mentoring Programme held in Accra.
The Paperless Court system under the e-justice project has been kick started after four courts at the Law Court Complex in Accra went live on Wednesday, the 4th of July, 2018.
The e-justice project – an initiative of the Government of Ghana seeks to automate the existing manual filing system within court registries across the country. The project is currently being piloted at the Law Court Complex.
Court proceedings under the e-justice project commenced at 9:00 a.m. at the Commercial Court ‘3’, Land Court ‘8’, Criminal Court ‘4’ and Labour Court ‘1’ with two ICT personnel assigned to each of the four courts to assist in addressing any challenges as is the case with the introduction of any new system.
The registrars of the four courts were enthusiastic about the whole exercise and expressed delight at the transition from the manual to the electronic filing system.
To help increase the Judicial Service’s capacity and reach in receiving and dealing with public complaints about members of the Judiciary, staff and services rendered, the European Union, EU, through its Anti-corruption, Rule of Law and Accountability Programme, ARAP, has presented some office equipment and communication materials to the Service.
The items are meant for distribution across regional offices of the Public Relations and Complaints Unit (PRCU) to be set up, in addition to the already existing ones in Accra, Kumasi and Sekondi. They include 10 computers and their accessories, 10 Internet Routers and Uninterruptible Power Sources, nine printers and telephone sets, as well as seven sets of office furniture which will be delivered later. In addition, ARAP has printed about 975 PRCU operational guidelines already developed by the Danish International Development Agency, DANIDA, for the yet to be trained staff of these Units and members of the Judiciary.
The EU Head of Cooperation, Mr. Zoltan Agai, who presented the items to the Judicial Secretary at a short ceremony in Accra, acknowledged the strong commitment of the Ghanaian Judiciary to deal with complaints effectively with the actual set up of 10 Complaint Units accessible to citizens across the country. He announced that ARAP’s support to the Judiciary will go beyond the Complaints Unit. “There is a work stream aimed at strengthening the capacity of Judges to deal with cases of corruption, and the other one focuses on developing a ‘web based legal library’, for which we hope to see prototype available soon” he added.
The Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo, has warned Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, that the Judiciary may be forced to shut down courthouses sharing facilities with other organizations should they fail to relocate them to purpose-built structures within stipulated times.
“Courthouses must be stand-alone structures that are well built and fenced to demarcate them from the surrounding neighbourhood. In this regard, I also want to emphasize that courts housed in premises shared with other organizations and institutions are totally unacceptable and I have had to stress to other Assemblies elsewhere that short of relocation to more purpose-built accommodation with stipulated times, the offending courts will have to be shut down,” she said.
The Chief Justice was speaking at the inauguration of a Court Complex in the Nsawam Adoagyiri Municipality, which houses a High Court as well as Circuit and District Courts.
The Judicial Service has provided further proof of its commitment to the vision of delivering quality justice with the launch of Ghana’s first integrated Criminal Justice Case-Tracking System, code named ‘Ghana CTS’.
The Case Tracking System Project whose implementation is being funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will collate data from the Judicial Service, Attorney-General’s Department via the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Ghana Police Service, Ghana Prisons Service, Legal Aid Scheme and the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), and allow the stakeholders in the justice sector to track cases from their initiation to eventual completion. This will ultimately speed up trials in the courts.
The Vice President, Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, who was the Special Guest of Honour for the event, said that the System would boost investor confidence and help address bottlenecks in Ghana’s justice delivery system.
E-Justice is here at last, as the Judiciary and the Judicial Service of Ghana go paperless; but first as a ‘proof of concept’ pilot project at the Law Court Complex in Accra, which houses 44 High Courts.
What is e-Justice?
E-Justice, otherwise referred to as the Paperless Courts or Electronic Case Management System (ECMS), forms part of the Government of Ghana e-Transform Programme that seeks to automate the manual filing systems within the Court’s Registry, i.e. from filing of cases to the execution of court decisions. Turnaround time on the adjudication of cases would thus be improved and justice delivery, enhanced.
As a registered Business Partner (BP), the e-Justice system will enable a court user to electronically file cases and complaints, and track their status, as well as make online and mobile money payments for court transactions. It also makes room for a court user to get instant notifications of all adjournments via short message service (SMS) and email, as well as receive instant alerts on all court-related transactions.
The Judicial Service has earned a mark for itself as the first arm of government and public service institution to make use of solar power energy, thereby reducing the reliance on conventional electricity supply.
According to Her Ladyship the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo, solarisation of Courts is in line with her vision “to achieve a fully integrated court system through the application of Information Communication Technology to achieve energy efficiency and independence to assure the seamless operation of the courts in our automation strategy”.
The Chief Justice was speaking at the inauguration of a Solar Power System at the High and District Courts in Winneba, in the Central Region of Ghana.
Justice Sophia Akuffo further noted that the event “marks the beginning of a programme to provide our Courts with renewable sustainable energy by harnessing the power of one of the most, if not the most plentiful and most source of power, which is the sun, to assure energy independence, in our quest to assure quality justice delivery, make justice accessible to Ghana’s citizens, and oil the wheels of justice to deliver it more speedily and efficiently”.
The Lady Chief Justice, Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo, has encouraged newly qualified Lawyers to be the first advocates of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) by recommending the process to their prospective clients who seek justice at the courts.
She was speaking at a special meeting of the General Legal Council (GLC) in Accra, at which 38 new Lawyers were called to the Bar.