The Chief Justice (CJ), Justice Sophia A. B. Akuffo, has called for the establishment of “effective support systems amongst judges that will provide the environment for them to overcome work-related pressures that undermine the health and well-being of judges.”
According to her, this would allow judges “to continue to thrive and perform optimally” in the face of increasing crimes and civil disputes as a result of societies becoming more complex.
Speaking at the 39th Annual General Meeting of the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana (AMGJ) in Accra, Justice Akuffo said the health and well-being of judges were extremely important because judges were at the heart of the justice delivery system of any country.
“Our Constitution takes due cognizance of this imperative and makes the inability to perform the functions of the judge’s office due to infirmity of body or mind a ground for the removal of the judge from the Bench,” she said.
“The mere absence of sickness or disease is no indication of good health and hence a holistic view of wellness is necessary if we are to achieve the ends of this objective,” she added.
The CJ indicated that the support system could be used as an avenue to drive mentorship programmes amongst judges, saying “I have come to the realization that interactions amongst us judges are mostly limited to members of the same level.”
The CJ said the Judicial Service had embarked on ICT projects with a view to injecting efficiency and speed into administrative and judicial processes.
She added that the application of ICT tools would greatly enhance the ability of judges to deliver on their mandate, adding “in some cases, we are already seeing the benefits.”
Thank You Money
The CJ, however, condemned the act of judges giving the staff of the Judicial Service what she calls ‘thank you money’ in the performance of their duties, saying “this is insidious and detrimental to our fight against corruption within the Judiciary and the Judicial Service.”
Meanwhile, the association is exploring the idea of developing medical software — Personal Medical Data — for all judges across the country.
The President of the association, Justice Senyo Dzamefe, said the mobile application would capture the medical history of all judges which could be used at the courts’ hospitals, as well as other accredited medical facilities.
Justice Dzamefe said the welfare of judges and magistrates should not be undermined. He bemoaned, in particular, the non-payment of allowances and remuneration of judges which he said had become the biggest issue for the association.
Justice Dzamefe also called for tighter security for judges both at the courts and at homes and called on the Inspector General of Police to establish police posts on the premises of the courts and manned by commanders.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak|DGN Online