There is 'ethical deficit' in Ghana's courtrooms – Former UK prosecutor claims

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A former Senior Crown Prosecutor in the UK says the over concentration on training good lawyers in the country has led to what he describes as ‘ethical deficit’ in Ghana’s courtrooms and legal thought.

Godwin Adjei-Gyamfi observed legal education in Ghana has focused more on developing the technical skills and knowledge of lawyers as against moral values, which he argued, is critical in modern law profession where professional ethic is at the heart of legal education.

“Ethical perspectives have, on the whole, been neglected both in the classroom, courtroom and legal thought more generally,” he said in Facebook commentary on the latest corruption expose in Ghana’s judiciary.

He said his description of the situation as ethical deficit is not in any way intended to damage the reputation of lawyers and judges, noting it is “to strengthen professional integrity by drawing attention to the limitations of current training”.

Mr. Adjei-Gyamfi

He has consequently called for a total overhaul of the current legal curriculum to create more space for moral values and ethical thought in both the teaching and practice of law in the country.

Adjei-Gyamfi who is now a Senior Crown Advocate in the UK, touched on legal arguments that have arisen from the 3-hour edited video documentary in which 34 judges in the country were exposed allegedly taking bribes in different forms to influence decisions of cases before them
 
Anas Video: Illegally/Improperly Obtained?

Many lawyers have said the three hour video by Anas will not be admissible in criminal law as it has been illegally or improperly obtained. Illegally or improperly obtained evidence consists of evidence obtained in violation of a person’s human rights guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution and under international law.

I disagree with those school of thought who take this position because the general principle of criminal law in countries with Common Law jurisdiction is that in criminal proceedings, all relevant evidence presented by the parties is prima facie admissible as the courts have adopted an inclusionary approach towards evidence in order to favour the victim and ensure a fair trial.

Evidence such as videos and recordings are admitted but they are subject to the rules on admissibility of evidence. Under the laws of The Republic, they include authenticity and relevance . Thus where lawyers for Anas are able to prove that the videos and recordings are authentic, it will be admissible.

The only bar to admissibility is the argument appealing to the court to exercise its discretion to consider whether admitting the video evidence ‘will create substantial danger of unfair prejudice’ to the accused.

Entrapment

Some lawyers contend that the alleged audio-visual recordings constitute an entrapment which they argue is intolerable in law and, more particularly in the interest of best practices, frowned upon by the laws of democratic countries and therefore it should not be aired.

Again, I disagree with lawyers who raise the issue of entrapment as a defence. They have in fact missed the point! In the UK where I have practised law for over a decade, the law on entrapment is the same as in The Republic. Entrapment is only a defence where the perpetrator was acting in an official capacity as a police officer or immigration officer or a security agent. Hence as Anas was not acting in such capacity that defence will not succeed.

Embarking a course of action to prevent airing of the video and recording will be fruitless and will not prevent airing even if a favourable ruling is delivered by the courts. First, the Ghanaian ruling will not bind other jurisdictions and hence can be aired by those outside of the jurisdiction and there’s no way of proving the identity of the perpetrator in the age of social media.

Are Judges Corrupt?

I don’t believe all judges are corrupt and I believe and I have seen in my practise in Ghana that there are good judges who deliver sound Rulings out there. In determining the faits of the 34 judges, the law must not be influenced, be allowed to work and where the hammer falls let it fall in order to restore public confidence in the judiciary.

In other jurisdictions such as Germany, UK and Italy, where there are casualties usually the ultimate head of the department/ institution will resign.
Should the Recordings be Aired?

We should apply objective criteria to determine this issue, in fact the issue is not about whether it should be aired but rather when should it be aired. Hence it’s about timing so that an impartial adjudicator can arrive at a fair determination as to whether a prima facie case has been established against the alleged perpetrators without bias or prejudice.

By Stephen Kwabena Effah/3news.com/Ghana
Twitter steviekgh

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