Criticise Judges violently, but—Chief Justice
The Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, yesterday stated that journalists can criticise judges as violently as they wish, but cautioned that such criticism must be done with decency and in temperate language.
He was speaking through a Supreme Court Judge, Justice Yoni Kulendi at a joint press conference organised by the Ghana Journalists Association and the Judiciary ahead of the Supreme Court verdict on the 2020 election petition today.
Justice Yeboah noted that per the arrangement of the Constitution, 1992, the media and the judiciary were partners in nation building.
“His Lordship has said that I should tell you that as trustees of the people’s power of justice, we are willing and happy to be criticised; criticise us as violently as you can but for Christ sake, don’t insult us, don’t berate us, don’t malign us,” Justice Kulendi said.
Justice Kulendi said that the work the press does was a similar responsibility with which judges embrace their work.
He said that as a lawyer, he thought he knew judges, having spent much of his professional legal career in the Supreme Court but added that he had come to appreciate the complexities, the difficulties and the challenges of being a judge.
He said the judiciary was a human institution with imperfections but its commitment to country and the people was unimpeachable.
Justice Kulendi who had contributed tremendously to press freedom as a private legal practitioner said the Chief Justice took the role of the media seriously that was the reason the court allowed cameras to cover court proceedings.
He noted that the media had a greater role, especially after today’s decision on the election petition, to educate the public on the decision of the court.
According to Justice Kulendi, the media in the course of discharging its responsibility might misinform or miseducate but it must strive to be the best.
While acknowledging that the court might be unfriendly to the media sometimes, he said the media, also referred to as the fourth estate of the realm, was the intermediary between the courts as trustees of the people’s power and the public.
He told journalists that the Chief Justice expressed his profound gratitude to the media for their reportage from the beginning to the end of the election petition.
President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Roland Affail Monney commended court correspondents who covered the petition for discharging their work with “excellence and professionalism.”
He asked journalists to avoid sensationalism and consider national cohesion, unity and stability.
Mr Tony Forson Jr, President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) thanked lawyers who took time to explain court proceedings to the public and encouraged them to continue to do so after today’s judgement.
Mr Forson Jr used the opportunity to render an unqualified apology on behalf of lawyers for their (lawyers) excesses to the authorities involved in disciplining lawyers.
In attendance were the Executive Secretary of the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GBA), Ms Gloria Hadze, Vice President of Private Newspapers Association of Ghana (PRINPAG), Mr David Tamakloe, Mr Thaddeus Sory, counsel for Judicial Service and some members of the Service.