On the back of reports that the Kasoa Magistrate Court judge used a chamber pot, creating the impression that there was no toilet facility at the premises, Center for Constitutional Order has moved to remind District Assemblies that it is their “duty to mobilize funds and ensure that the inhabitants in their respective area of control have sound access to justice and delivery of justice.”
The Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, according a newspaper report, was left stunned by a Magistrate at the Kasoa District Court who supposedly had to use a chamber pot because there was no washroom at her facility.
According to the paper, the magistrate, Felicia Gandezi, was explaining some of the challenges of the court to the Chief Justice, who is on a four-day tour of courts in the Central Region.
Sophia Akuffo consequently threatened to close down the Kasoa District Court and all other courts not purposefully designed for the judiciary.
In a statement titled, “Seeking justice in a ‘chamber pot’ court; governance delineating institutions and people”, the Center for Constitutional Order said, “the solution to this mirage of indecency” was for District Assemblies to act accordingly.
Below is the statement:
Seeking justice in a ‘chamber pot’ court; governance delineating institutions and people
It is reported that the Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana has stated that she would close down a number of District Magistrate Courts should their state remain unchanged. The state of these courts, it is said, is inhumane and indeed constitutes a shameful violation of human dignity of no less a person than those who occupy same: Judges and the people. These courts have no toilet facilities, no proper seats for both Judges and litigants, inter alia. Kasoa is just one out of many. We all know this.
Savelungu of Northern Region, has been closed down for many months now and the people there are struggling to feel and see justice. This Center finds it necessary to assist the able arms of the Chief Justice of this Republic by respectfully calling the nation’s attention to the solution of this mirage of indecency. By the way the reader ought to appreciate that Municipals and Metropolitan’s are all District Assemblies under our laws.
Article 245 of the Constitution 1992, mandates the District Assembly to mobilize resources in the District for development. It reads: “Parliament shall, by law, prescribe the functions of District Assemblies which shall include:
a. the formulation and execution of plans, programmes and strategies for the effective mobilization of the resources necessary for the overall development of the district; and
b. levying and collection of taxes, rates, duties, and fees.”
Further to this Constitutional injunction is section 10 (3) (g) of the Local Government Act, 1993 (Act 462) which states that the District Assemblies:
“Shall ensure ready access to Courts in the districts for promotion of justice”
It is thus clear from these two laws alone that the District Assemblies have the statutory duty to mobilize funds and ensure that the inhabitants in their respective area of control have sound access to justice and delivery of justice. It is not the duty of the Central Government. It is not the duty of the Chief Justice. It is the duty of the District Assemblies. We see them collecting rates and levies and other fees all the time. It is just unimaginable that, at least part of those funds are not able to just create a decent environment for justice delivery.
Now, it is further stated that mobilizing resources include mobilizing human resources as well. This country cannot be run outside the people who live in it. The chiefs and elders and the people are the greatest resource of the nation. May it not be said that our people are so powerless such that with the right leadership a decent environment cannot be created for Judges and the people to ensure a sound delivery of justice.
In Ghana there is a writ of mandamus when statutory duty is violated without legal justification. This Center serves notice and notice is hereby served that our Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies should sit up and do their duty within their respective mandates or upon the expiry of thirty days they shall all have their day in court. These Chief Executives must be ordered. And if they fail to comply; contempt. The people cannot always suffer. Their leaders must now be made to suffer. This is the solution.
By Center for Constitutional Order.