Former Commissioner of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Emile Short says he is startled by the decision of the Chief Justice to give some judges implicated in the Anas exposé on judicial corruption End of Service Benefits (ESB).
Twenty judges and magistrates implicated in the investigation which stunned the entire country were sacked after being found guilty of bribery.
Four out of the twenty-one lower court judges who were sacked by the Judicial Council were however paid their ESB simply because unlike the others, they apologized “profusely” for their actions.
They are His Honour Seyram Tsatsu Azumah – Circuit Court, Akropong; His Worship Paul K. Alhassan – District Court, Agona; His Worship Albert Zoogah – District Court, Ashaiman and His Worship Courage Ofori Afriyie – District Court, Offinso.
“Council has deliberated on the findings and recommendations of the committee and taken the appropriate decisions in respect of each of the circuit court judges or district court magistrates in accordance with Article 151 of the Constitution.
“Those removed with benefits were remorseful when they appeared before the committee and apologized profusely to the people of Ghana and the judiciary for bringing the name of the institution into disrepute by their conduct,” the council said.
This punishment, Justice Short speaking on Adom FM’s Morning Show, ‘Dwaso Nsem’ on Wednesday opined was not enough punishment for persons who took bribes and engaged in acts of corruption and perverted justice.
“It is not a positive recommendation because other judges would continue taking bribes and when caught all they will do is to decide to go before such a committee and apologise after being caught…,” he said.
This decision of the Chief Justice which he described as ‘controversial’, were not punitive enough, he maintained.
He therefore urged the Chief Justice to re-consider her decision and strip the judges of the ESB paid them to serve as a deterrent to others.
Justice Short further denied media reports that he has called for the prosecution of the implicated judges.
“All I said was that the decision to prosecute the judges lies in the bosom of the Chief Justice…so why must I be misrepresented,?” he asked.
On arguments that the sacked judges might decide to go back into practice by becoming lawyers, Justice Short said he was not sure the return of the judges to the courtroom would augur well for the administration of justice.
He however subscribed to views that any of the sacked judges should be welcomed back to the legal system and accorded the needed respect if they sue the state and are cleared of the corruption charges levelled against them.
The public, he said, should still have confidence in the judiciary as there is evidence to prove that some of the judges who refused the bribes given them are still in the system.
“No institution is 100% free and the most important thing is the step taken after the expose…,” he said.