As the first male Chief Justice in 12 years and the 14th to be appointed in Ghana, Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah has outlined certain pledges Ghanaians can hold him to and for which he will be responsible for accountability, when he retires from office.
Justice Anin-Yeboah was appointed by President Nana Akufo-Addo in December 2019 following the retirement of the then chief justice Sophia Abena Akuffo on December 20, 2019.
His dedication and commitment to serve the country, and determination to fight delays in justice delivery, are but a few of the promises he made, ones he believes will be feasible only if government provides the needed resources to support the system.
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on his part, charged Kwasi Anin-Yeboah to ensure modernisation, decency and fairness.
Anin Yeboah sworn in as 14th Chief Justice of Ghana
Having been sworn in on January 7, 2020, here is a compilation of what the citizenry can expect from the new Chief Justice:
Fairness and accountability
“Before all persons present, I have solemnly made three oaths for which I will be responsible to this country and to my creator.” He said before the house during his swearing in by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on January 7, 2019.
As part of his mandates, he swore to uphold the integrity of the judiciary and follow in the stead of his predecessors, functions he will perform ‘faithfully without fear or favor, affection or ill-will”.
“I want to assure the people of Ghana that I will continue to jealously guard the integrity of the judiciary as my predecessors in office have done.” He said.
Corruption fight, improved legal education and better judicial infrastructure
His pledge on the first day as Chief Justice was to, among other things, uphold the integrity of the judiciary and tackle challenges surrounding legal education in Ghana.
He also promised to, with support from government, work towards improving infrastructure of the country’s courts and residences of the judicial officers.
“During my vetting by Parliament, it was evident that the following issues concerning the Judiciary were of concern to the representatives of the people of Ghana; the integrity of the Judiciary and the continuing perception of corruption, delays in the justice delivery system, poor infrastructure of the courts and residences of the judicial officers, inadequate resources for the running of the judiciary and justice delivery system, and challenges surrounding the legal education in Ghana.”
Justice Anin-Yeboah passionate about legal reforms – Kofi Abotsi
“I want to assure the people of Ghana that I will continue to jealously guide the integrity of the Judiciary as my predecessors in office have done and would take all necessary steps to ensure that during my term of office, solutions are found to these issues of concerns,” he guaranteed.
Determination of election petition within 42 days
Any election cases that may emerge, at least under his tenure, will not be heard by the Supreme Court beyond 42 days, this is an assurance by Chief Justice Anin-Yeboah.
According to him, the Rules of Court committee, mandated by the Constitution to come up with the rules to regulate election petitions came up with this new rule which he intends to abide by.
“We had a workshop at Senchi and we went through it and I’m assuring you that it will never be what we had earlier. It will be shorter but I cannot tell you it will take one or two weeks; the constitution makes provision for someone to be in the stead of the President and justice hastily administered will not be justice at all. But we tried in the old rules to fix the timelines for about 42 days, so if it is clear to honourable members then it means when an election petition is presented, we can get rid of it within that shortest possible time, that is for 42 days.” Justice Anin-Yeboah stated during his vetting by Parliament.
His comments follow events which happened in 2012 where Ghana experienced a landmark ruling in an eight-month-long prolonged tussle at the Supreme Court over the validity of the presidential results.
Why Anin-Yeboah was chosen over Jones Dotse as Chief Justice – First Deputy Speaker explains
Maintenance of the judicial apparel
Despite complaints from colleague judges about the discomfort, health implications and heat the job comes with, newly Justice Anin-Yeboah says he will maintain the traditional robe and wig judges in the country are required to wear in the court of law.
Legal practitioners including Senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, Professor Raymond Atuguba and newly elected Supreme Court judge, Justice Gertrude Torkonoo made arguments about how the dress code poses avoidable and preventable health conditions to legal practitioners and how uncomfortable it could be sitting in those heavy robes for long hours in court, particularly in a room that’s not very well ventilated.
Justice Anin, however, in response to some of these issues raised said that the practice of wigs, bibs, and gowns, have been a tradition of the judicial service, one he doesn’t intend to change.
“If I had my way, I won’t change the tradition of the court.” He said before the Appointments Committee of Parliament during his vetting. Adding, “that’s our uniform and I am all out for the tradition at the bar. I am not going to change it. If I have my own way, I will never.”