CHIEF JUSTICE Georgina Theodora Wood has pledged the judiciary’s commitment to effectively resolve all electoral disputes expeditiously without fear or favour to ensure that the right people occupy political office in the country.
“We are deeply conscious of the fact that in participatory democracy, elective officers have a limited lifespan, and slow paced adjudication of disputes has the potential of rendering the judicial remedies subsequently obtained by a successful party, a pyrrhic victory,” she noted.
The Chief Justice, who was speaking at the launch of the ‘Accra Principles for Electoral Justice’ in Accra yesterday, indicated that failed justice stood the risk of ruining the effort of the people at promoting and sustaining peace in the country, and turning back the clock of national development.
The document, which will serve as a guiding principle for free, fair and transparent elections in Africa, was launched by the Association of African Election Authority in Conjunction with TIRI (Making Integrity Work) to coincide with International Day of Democracy.
Justice Ben Odoki, Chief Justice of Uganda who launched the document, was among the dignitaries present.
Other dignitaries included Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of Ghana’s Electoral Commission; Dr. Christiana Thorpe, Chairperson of Sierra Leone’s Electoral Commission; Fredrik Galtung of TIRI and Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, New Patriotic Party (NPP) Director of Elections who is also the Member of Parliament for Manhia in Kumasi.
Ghana’s judiciary, Chief Justice Georgina Wood indicated, recognized the importance of electoral justice, which clearly cuts across political, civil and electoral rights of citizens, and would collaborate with other stakeholders to build on the foundations laid over the years.
She recounted that it was because of this belief that in 2008, she directed judges to hear electoral cases at weekends and on holidays, as provided for by the Courts Act 1993 (Act 459), given that safeguarding of election integrity lay, among other things, in the effective resolution of electoral disputes in a fair and timely manner.
“I would like to use this platform to assure the good people of Ghana who have entrusted us with judicial power, that in spite of the difficulties and challenges that we sometimes face, the judiciary is committed to jealously guarding electoral justice in consonance with the constitution and other laws of the land,” Justice Georgina Wood pledged.
Launching the document, Ugandan Chief Justice Ben Odoki said, “Elections are the crux of democracy but unless they are conducted in a fair and transparent manner, democracy will be doomed.”
Ghana’s Electoral Commission, with the support of the people, Justice Odoki noted, had demonstrated that elections could be held in a transparent manner.
The Chairperson of the Sierra Leone Electoral Commission, Dr. Christiana Thorpe, said ‘Accra Principles for Electoral Justice’ offered electoral practitioners set tools like integrity, rule of law, impartiality and fairness and transparency for ensuring democracy, peace and unity in Africa.
Source: Daily Guide