The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has expressed concern about judgements delivered by some judges in cases involving the destruction of the environment which are not deterrent enough.
He cited instances when people caught stealing goats were given two-year prison sentences, while those who used heavy machinery to pollute water bodies, destroy farms and deplete the environment through illegal mining (galamsey) got away with “lenient sentences”.
Swearing in four new justices of the Supreme Court at the Jubilee House last Wednesday, President Akufo-Addo said: “The concept of deterrence must be an important part of sentencing policy, especially in areas of great social concern, such as the fight against galamsey and vigilantism.”
The justices were Mr Justice Samuel K. Marful-Sau and Ms Justice Agnes A. Dordzie, both promoted from the Court of Appeal; Nene A. O. Amegatcher, a former President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), and Professor Emmanuel Nii Ashie Kotey, a former Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana.
The President, who administered the oaths of Allegiance, Judiciary and Secrecy, noted that the judges met the stringent requirements of Article 128(4) of the Constitution.
“You have the independence of spirit, proven integrity, high moral character and impartiality of mind to hold this high office. Your appointments are truly well deserved and merited,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo conceded that although some of the judgements were in line with the dictates of due process and the protection of human rights and in accordance with the Criminal Offences Act, he said there was discretion for the judge within a certain band.
He bemoaned the situation where judges proffered judgements on the basis of decisions from lower courts and cited them as law, describing that practice as unacceptable.
“Judges, more so justices of the Supreme Court, must be learned, know their case law and ensure that their decisions and judgements are properly motivated,” he added.
He said as the Attorney-General from 2001 to 2003 during the Kufuor administration, he nominated for appointment onto the Supreme Court, with the approval of the President, distinguished jurists and academics.
He mentioned the justices to include Prof. Samuel Kofi Date-Bah, the late Prof. Tawia Modibo Ocran and the late Prof. A.K.P. Kludze, three judges whose works, he noted, made a significant impact on the growth of the court’s constitutional jurisprudence.
The President said he had continued with that tradition as President and that was why he nominated Nene Amegatcher and Prof. Kotey for appointment from the Bar directly to the Supreme Court, together with two respected judges of the Court of Appeal.
He said that blend of persons at the Supreme Court would strengthen the development of the nation’s constitutional and other jurisprudence.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Justice Marful-Sau commended the President for the confidence reposed in them and said they would work to protect the Constitution and the laws of the country.
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