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Monies given to influence judges don’t get to them – Justice Torkornoo

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Chief Justice nominee, Justice Gertrude Araba Esabaa Torkornoo, has cautioned the public against giving money to individuals to be given to judges, in the hope of influencing their judgement.

This, according to her, is because such monies end up in the pockets of these individuals and not with the judges.

Appearing before the Appointments Committee of Parliament on Friday, Justice Torkornoo said this results in the perception that judges take money to rule in favour of some people.

“There is a whole market; we call it judicial predators. It’s a whole predatory group around our function and that is something that we constantly try to address in our study of ethics both for judges and staff,” she noted.

Her comment follows assertions that some judges are corrupt or can be bribed. In an earlier documentary by Anas Aremeyaw Anas, some judges were caught on camera allegedly taking bribes from individuals.

Many CSOs and personalities argued that the bribery scandal has shaken the very foundation of the judiciary, with some high-profile judges tendering their resignation, while others were suspended.

But touching on bribery allegations among judges, Justice Torkornoo said it is impossible to bribe judges.

“It is unfortunate that that perception has prevailed… Our work is extremely technical, sometimes people lose cases because they didn’t abide by the rules of courts; they didn’t abide by the rules of evidence; they didn’t abide by substantive law precepts… and so they lose the case and they don’t understand. The law is difficult that is why law school is difficult and so when people lose cases, they tend to wonder why they lost and then they come up with all sorts of notions,” she explained.

Background

In 2015, about 34 superior court judges were caught on camera taking bribes and extorting money from litigants in an investigative report by investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas.

Over one hundred officials of the Judicial Service were also cited in the expose that took more than two years to execute.

Anas stealthily videotaped and audio-recorded conversations with suspects or persons acting as agents of suspects.

Some high-profile judges including, Justice John Ajet-Nassam, a High Court Judge, who freed Alfred Agbesi Woyome in the controversial Gh¢51 million judgment debt scandal, are among those cited in the corruption scandal.

Titled ‘Ghana in the Eyes of God – Epic of Injustice’, the investigative work was premiered at the Accra International Conference Centre on September 22, 2015.

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