Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah says the job of Magistrates and Judges will mean nothing if only a few people can “truly have justice.”
“If the scales are weighed in only one direction and if there are people who cannot, for any reason, believe that the justice system works for them as hard as it does for their neighbours [then our job will mean nothing],” he said.
The Chief Justice said this in a speech read on his behalf by Justice Jones Dotse, a Justice of the Supreme Court at the opening of the 19th Triennial Conference of the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (CMJA) in Accra on Monday.
The six-day conference is on the theme: “Access to Justice in a Modern World.”
The conference attracted 390 delegates from six regions of the Commonwealth, including Chief Justices, Judges, Magistrates, Lawyers, and judicial officials to exchange ideas and share experiences towards spurring change and innovation in justice administration within the Commonwealth.
The event aims at promoting better understanding of judicial independence amongst judicial officers of all ranks and from all parts of the Commonwealth.
It also seeks to promote greater awareness amongst Magistrates and Judges of the Commonwealth of international treaties and laws relating to development and access to justice.
The Chief Justice said the principle of justice for all must energise them daily and become the measure of their approach to the prosecution of their duties.
He said in “these tense times, citizens across the Commonwealth and other parts of the world must be assured that there is an avenue for them to have their grievances properly addressed in a way that is fair, equitable and just.”
Chief Justice Anin-Yeboah said, “we cannot be in the frontline of medical and military battles, but the law is what must guide all those who are and so for that reason, we must be actively engaged in these matters and ensure that the weak are protected and rights of all are secured.”
He said a changing world, shifting geo-political sands, economic uncertainty and accelerating climate change were a heady mix that required sure-footed responses.
“To be certain, access to justice will be a key feature in any of the solutions that we will fashion out to respond to any and all of these crises that we face,” he added.
He said he believed that it was extremely important to, as they had chosen to do, explore ways in which they could increase access to justice for all in the modern world.
He said the role of justice as a preservative gel in society could not be overemphasized.
Chief Justice Anin-Yeboah said the idea of society, where people with disparate dispositions, with conflicting needs must share space and time, could not be possible if there was not an impartial and predictable system to adjudicate the inevitable tensions that would arise.
“The assurance that we can have justice, that we will be protected from harm, and we can go about our lawful business is what keeps all of us together,” he said.
He said in Ghana, the judiciary had found that technology was an effective and budget-friendly way to adjudicate cases.
“While we are determined to have modern court infrastructure around the country, we have discovered that we can use technology to realise the broader objectives that can be achieved by more and larger buildings,” he added.
Justice Charles Mkandawire, the President of CMJA, said the conference organisers had put together a simulating programme to fix some of the current challenges faced by judicial officers across the Commonwealth.
He said CMJA was the only organisation bringing together judicial officers of all court levels in an atmosphere of collegiality and mutual respect.
He commended the Ghana Local Organising Committee for having prepared an exciting social programme and to the government for providing the political and financial support to the judiciary for the programme.