The Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSAG) has backed calls from Magistrates and Judges in the country for financial independence of the Judiciary.

This according to JUSAG, this is because an independent judiciary will ensure that judges can operate without any external interference or influence.

The association said, one of the key aspects of financial independence for the judiciary requires an adequate funding to be allocated to the judicial system.

Samuel Afotey Otu, President of JUSAG who made this known in his goodwill message during the opening ceremony of the two-day annual conference of the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana,(AMJG), on Wednesday, also proposed for an increase in retention of 70% on non-taxed internally revenue.

“My Lord Chair, the 1992 Constitution of Ghana hopes for the good people of Ghana, a Judiciary that is absolutely independent of any single person, body or organ of state. It intends for us a Judiciary that is subject only to the Constitution and accountable to the people of Ghana.

“The theme for this year’s conference which focuses on, ‘A financially independent and accountable judiciary; the key to effective justice delivery’ calls on us and other organs of state to re-examine the extent to which we have been accountable for the powers vested in the Judiciary by the Constitution,” Samuel Afotey Otu stated.

“It also behooves on us to reflect on the extent to which the Judiciary has been financially independent. Indeed, a financially independent and accountable judiciary is crucial for effective justice delivery in Ghana,” he explained.

“This is because an independent judiciary ensures that judges can operate without any external interference or influence, allowing them to make impartial decisions based on the law and the evidence presented.

“One of the key aspects of financial independence for the judiciary requires an adequate funding to be allocated to the judicial system.

“Separate budgetary allocation from government, will prevent financial dependence on the executive and allow the judiciary to allocate funds according to its own requirement,” JUSAG president intimated.

Proposal for increase revenue retention

In the a proposal to the AMJG, JUSAG stated that, an increase in the retention of the non-tax revenue from 30% to 70% will support the cause.

“This will increase the IGF of the Judiciary and enable us to internally settle the arrears of the allowances due Judges and Magistrates as well as staff of the Judicial Service.

To JUSAG, “We the staff exist because the judges live,” and “The Judiciary is a revered state institution in which our Judges and Magistrates are highly respected.”

“The dignified status of judges and magistrates require that the Judiciary operates an in-house financial co-operative credit union to make us completely independent of the private financial institutions whose cases come to courts for settlement,” he stated.

Mr Afotey Otu further pointed out the importance of the need for the judges to subscribe to the JUSCOFund by stating that it will eliminate any form of perceived bias from the public.

“With the permission of My Lord Chairman, as we address this problem, I will plead with all judges to join the JUSCOFund.

“This is crucial, as it will help to prevent any perceived biases or conflicts of interest that may arise from relying on these branches of government for financial support,” intimated.

“An independent judiciary can make decisions without fear of any repercussions, ensuring fairness and justice for all.

“My Lord Chair, in Ghana, an effective justice delivery system is vital for promoting the rule of law, protecting human rights, and fostering socio- economic development.

“A financially independent and accountable judiciary plays a pivotal role in achieving these goals.

“It guarantees that justice is administered fairly, impartially, and without any undue influence, in all sectors of society.

He therefore called on government to enhance the salaries and welfare packages of judges and judicial service staff to reduce the temptation of corruption and to also increase job satisfaction.

While commanding the Chief Justice for her role in the community engagement programs, Mr Afotey Otu said, “the public needs to be reminded of the role and importance of an independent judiciary.”

He said, encouraging public engagement with the judiciary, through mechanisms such as public consultations or open court hearings can also foster accountability and public trust.

Source: Inusah