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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.
Four Justices of the High Court and a former Solicitor General have been sworn-in as Justices of the Court of Appeal by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo at Jubilee House; the seat of government in Accra.
The new Justices of the Court of Appeal are; His Lordship Justice Nicholas Charles Abbey Agbevor, His Lordship Justice Alex Berchie Poku-Acheampong (Judicial Secretary), His Lordship Justice Anthony Kwadwo Yeboah, Her Ladyship Justice Merley Afua Wood and Her Ladyship Justice Amma Abuakwaa Gaisie, a former Solicitor General.
President Akufo Addo called on the Judges to apply the laws of the land as manifested in the words of the judicial oath - without fear or favour, affection or ill-will - and without recourse to the political, religious or ethnic affiliations of any citizen of the land. This, he noted as critical because “the growth of our nation demands that we have a Judiciary that commands the respect of the people by the nature of its delivery of justice as well as by the comportment of its judges”. “It is vitally important to have Judges who are honest, possess integrity and a sound knowledge of the law”. The President added.
The Chief Justice has asked the Member of Parliament for Adentan Mr. Yaw Buabeng Asamoah and the Adentan Municipal Assembly to judiciously use the portion of the Common Fund allocated to the Judicial Service to fast track the completion of the Adentan Court Complex.
Her Ladyship Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo made the call when she visited the District and Circuit Courts in Adentan and Tema as part of her three-day tour of Courts in the Greater Accra Region.
She was not happy that the current Court shares the same building with the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), National Board for Small Scale Industries, (NBSSI), and the Rural Enterprises Programme (REP). In this case, the Judge is made to walk through people before accessing the courtroom because his chambers is on a different floor from the court room, a situation the Chief Justice described as “just not acceptable”.
“There is nothing sanitary about that Court, yet it is a Sanitation Court. Please upgrade it before we bring in the necessary IT infrastructure”, This sentiment was expressed by the Lady Chief Justice, Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo in reference to the District Court in Laterbiokoshie located within the Ablekuma Central District.
The Chief Justice was speaking at a meeting with the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Chief Executive, Mr. Mohammed Adjei Sowah, as part of her three-day tour of Courts in the Greater Accra Region.
Circuit and District Courts across the country are to be upgraded and modernized to befit the status of any Court in the 21st Century.
The upgrading will include the physical building, use of solar power, adequate security, computers and other IT infrastructure. In the words of the Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo, “When the Lower Courts are upgraded, they will be equipped to become modernized Courts to enable proceedings to be recorded so that by the time ruling is given, it has already been captured by the system.”
The Circuit and District Courts in Tema as well as the Circuit Court in Kwabenya and the District Court in Dodowa, all in the Greater Accra Region do not have cells. As a result, the police have to find alternative places to keep suspects, including armed robbers during court sessions.
This unfortunate state of affairs was revealed to Her Lady Chief Justice, Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo, during her tour of some courts in the Greater Accra Region. The three-day tour of courts took the Chief Justice and her entourage to the Circuit and District Courts in Accra Central, Kaneshie, Laterbiokorshie, Weija, Madina, Adentan, Kwabenya, Dodowa, Ashaiman, Tema, Sege, and Ada.