ADDRESS BY HL JUSTICE GERTRUDE SACKEY TORKORNOO, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA ON THE OCCASION OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE DISTRICT COURT, KWESIMINTSIM MONDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2023
My Lords, Judges and Magistrates,
MP for Takoradi and Regional Minister - Kwabena Okyere Darko Mensah
Nana Egya Kwamina XI – Chief, Apremdo Traditional Area
Municipal Chief Executive, Effia-Kwesimintsim Municipal Assembly, Hon. Kojo Acquah
Municipal Coordinating Director
Members of the Bar,
Distinguished Invited Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I join you today to mark this important occasion in the history of Kwesimintsim with a sense of deep pleasure and great appreciation. Let me express my gratitude to the distinguished array of honorable citizens who have gathered to mark the occasion with the Judiciary and the Judicial Service of Ghana. I am very grateful to all the institutions and citizens who have contributed in various ways to make today possible.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, law offers many tools, assets and promises to any society. The first tool and asset law brings to society is the quality of order, because law serves to provide direction for everybody and every action. Thus if a law is set and everyone under its authority obeys it, communities made up of different people with different desires and inclinations can through that obedience, organize themselves in orderly fashion, and enjoy the beauty of harmony and achievement, as we are experiencing today. This is one of the major reasons why every country needs to make the law central to its development agenda.
After order, the next chief promise of law is justice. Justice is the quality of satisfaction that people must have, when they are given what they deserve in accordance with what the law relating to their action or transaction has directed.
Since as we all know, every human being is unique, justice is not at all easy to achieve. The 10th Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations is ‘reduced inequalities’ and the 16th Sustainable Development Goal is peace and justice through strong institutions. These goals cannot be achieved without access to justice. As such, justice is a goal that we must strive for, and work for.
In order to ensure that justice is assured for all citizens, the 1992 Constitution has placed the prerogative for making law in the hands of the people themselves and their representatives. Under article 11, the 1992 Constitution directs that the laws of Ghana comprise the Constitution first, the laws passed by parliament, and then the common law that Ghana accedes to, including the customary law and practices of all the tribes and peoples of Ghana.
After law has been created by the people themselves to give the nation order, the Constitution has directed that the Judiciary should carry the obligation of administering the law by interpreting it to citizens and applying it whenever there are any differences and conflicts.
To explain what I have said further, let me quote from article 125 (1) of the 1992 Constitution. It reads:
125(1) Justice emanates from the people of Ghana, and it is administered by the Judiciary in the name of the Republic which shall be independent and subject only to this Constitution’
Distinguished invited guests, it is this constitutional mandate of administering justice in accordance with law, with independence from any external influence apart from law, and with integrity, that the Judiciary, as the third arm of Government, discharges with the resources made available to us.
As we do our work, we carry the heavy appreciation that the very survival of our society depends on the quality of the system of justice that we administer within the community. Because as Pope John Paul II is famously quoted as saying ‘if you want peace, work for justice’. In doing this work, we are mindful of the fact that for any system of justice to be effective, it must be accessible to all citizens regardless of rank or social standing. It must also be physically within reach of those who need it and free of doubts about its independence and integrity.
Indeed, if anyone looks closely, they will see that the Judicial Service of Ghana has been working hard to fulfill all three of these conditions over the years. Our efforts, tireless and continual, continue to increase the quality of justice, though there is so much more that needs to be done. Apart from providing physical courts, expanding and refining the rules of procedure with which we work, the Judicial Service is also working hard at instilling in our officers, higher standards of ethical conduct. Through training and Codes of Conduct, we are demanding accountable service, independence from conflict of interest and integrity from all our officers around the country.
As Ghana has grown as a society, regulations have been increasingly crafted to assist the less well off in our society to access justice through less complex rules of court, automation of court services and provision of ADR facilities. We are also facilitating greater access to justice for the most vulnerable, including the physically challenged and those already incarcerated. I speak specifically of courts located in prisons, and ADR centers in courts around the country.
Today, we are marking another way in which the frontiers of justice in our country are being expanded with the inauguration of the District Court, Kwesimintsim. This project is part of the nationwide construction of one hundred Courthouses programme embarked on by Government in 2020 to improve judicial infrastructure.
This modern Court facility has adequate office space for the various Court functions, washrooms for Staff and Court Users, Male and Female Cells, Solar power, a standby Generator, a Borehole to provide sustainable water supply for the washroom and electric fencing to boost security. The facility has a dedicated space for Court connected ADR.
Through this Court, we will be able to ensure that fewer people contemplate the use of extra-judicial avenues of seeking redress and resolving disputes. Through this Court, we can allow more and more people to see justice being dispensed at close range and thus build confidence for businesses and investment in property. Because when the rule of law is established in any society, it delivers another promise, apart from order and justice as already discussed. This is the promise of prosperity and development. People are assured of safety of their person and assets, they are assured of the stability of the environment in which they live. When you add assurance of a justice delivery mechanism to bring justice and fairness, people find it easy to invest in the community and work hard for prosperity. The rule and protection of law therefore serves as the most positive building rungs for the steady development of any society.
It is therefore my hope that the presence of this court is able to bring more and more people to settle and do business in this beautiful community.
But all that has been said will depend, in large measure, on the people who come to work here. I therefore urge the staff of the Judicial Service of Ghana, whose work will give meaning to the construction of this court, to see themselves as ambassadors of the Service and of the very concept of justice itself. Most importantly, you must understand that the Judicial Service is a public service and we are servants of the public. This should impose on you a responsibility to be honest, fair and transparent in all their dealings with the citizens who come here to seek justice. Let all who come here feel welcome and reassured that the law is here to work for and with them. Let no one feel discouraged or reluctant to use the justice delivery institutions. We must ensure that we are not only fair and just, but are seen by all to be so, so that the people who patronize court services will feel confident in seeking redress from this building and so increase the peace and stability of the country. That is the only way in which we can ensure that the justice system operated from this building will achieve the purpose for which the Constitution arranged it.
I also wish to assert that we will do all we can to ensure that the building is well maintained and not allowed to fall into premature ruin and disrepair. We must maintain what we have and look after what is entrusted to us. Years to come, I believe that we will gather again to inaugurate a much larger edifice as Kwesimintsim becomes more and more prosperous.
Let me express my gratitude to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development for the successful implementation of the project and the District Assemblies Common Fund and its Administrator, Mrs. Irene Naa Torshie Addo Lartey, whose drive, enthusiasm and leadership have made it possible for us to be here today.
I also wish to thank the leaders of Kwesimintsim for making land available for this project. The people of Kwesimintsim thank you. Ghana is grateful. Posterity will remember your efforts. God bless our homeland Ghana.
Thank you and may God bless us all.