A Justice of the Supreme Court, Yonny Kulendi has said the public can criticize judges in Ghana however, those criticisms should be constructive.
He made this comment in a joint media engagement with the Ghana Journalists Association, National Media Commission and the Ghana Bar Association, on Wednesday March 3.
“When judges speak, that is the end of our roles, it is in our place to get into studios, into debates, commentaries, that responsibility falls to you [Media]…let’s be constructive, we are happy to be criticized. Criticize us as violently as you can but for Christ sake, don’t insult us.
“Don’t berate us, don’t speak hatred and don’t malign us.”
He added “You’ll have to take this phase of the responsibility very seriously. It is as important as the role you have performed in transmitting the proceedings worldwide because at the end of the day the Ghanaian people own the process.
“So it is important that they understand what went on and when the judges speak irrespective of our preferences, our likes and dislikes by the rules of engagement the referee blows the whistle and the lots fall where they fall. And so let’s be constructive, let’s be proactive,” he said.
His comments come after the judges received flak for a directive given to media firms to pull down stories that put justices of the highest court of Ghana in a bad light.
The directive was issued on behalf of the Court by lawyers of the Judicial Service of Ghana, Sory@Law.
They claim some of the publications in the media are “a series of incendiary, hateful and offensive statements, and speeches. . .against the Justices”.
The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) described the directive as scandalous.
At a press conference in Accra on Monday March 1, President of the GJA Affail Monney said“ the GJA is, to put it mildly, dumbstruck in reading this obnoxious directive pregnant with insidious threats to media freedom in Ghana which is touted as a land of freedom and justice. With all due respect, this is scandalous.”
“Unsurprisingly, our telephones have been flooded with calls, both local and international, from journalists, media watch organizations, defenders of press freedom and free expression, seeking to know what exactly was happening since that contentious statement by the Judicial Service was issued.
“It is universally acknowledged that media right is not absolute , but qualified. And legal experts teach us that such qualification must chime with the dictates of the law, due process , and must be exercised in such ways as to achieve legitimate aims and objectives.
“In crafting the scandalous statement, the GJA is principally of the view that the Judicial Service ought to have avoided any impression or situation that has the tendency to instill fear and promote a culture of silence into which Ghana had been enveloped during the period of autocratic misrule.
“Criticism , they say , is a gift which all arms of government need. So it will be miscarriage of fairness to deny the Judiciary that gift. Ann Landers once said ‘the naked truth is better than a well dressed lie. ‘Contextually, the naked truth is that the Judicial is not immune from criticism.
“However, that criticism must be done in a manner that does not bring the administration of justice into disrepute. To this end, the GJA urges the media community to be calm , and not to be led into temptation to scandalize the court with unhinged comments or verbal stones , no matter how provocative the statement of the Judicial Service might be.”
By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana