Every day, a number of people find themselves involved in one form of litigation or another. The issue could be a disagreement in a business transaction or some other social issue that needs settlement in a court of law.
To be able to perform to the expectation of the individual and the state, the Judiciary, one of the three arms of government, needs all resources to be able to meet the constant demand for the dispensation of justice, especially in a democratic society.
For a very long time, concerns have been expressed over the conditions under which some of our courts operate, especially in the regions.
Speaking at the inauguration of the refurbished Supreme Court building early last year, the then Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, lamented what she referred to as the deplorable state of majority of court buildings across the country.
She noted that most of the courts did not inspire confidence, as they remained in deplorable conditions, and called on the Executive to do something about them.
Sad to note, the situation has not improved much as of today. This is evidenced by the concern expressed by the current Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Sophia Akuffo, when she visited the Kasoa District Court in the Central Region early this month. Dissatisfied with the conditions there, she threatened to close down all courts that were not properly designed to operate as such by the end of the year.
During her visit to Agona Swedru, also in the Central Region, the Chief Justice expressed disappointment at the state of the three courts there and asked the municipal assembly to put in every effort to improve on facilities at the courts.
The Daily Graphic appreciates the fact that justice delivery depends largely on the integrity, capability and competence of the persons involved in the administration of justice, but we dare say that if the building and physical space from which justice is administered is in a poor state, the trust and confidence that litigants must have in the courts can be eroded.
It is unfortunate that while the main courts in Accra have seen a massive facelift, with new structures constructed within the past few years to reignite confidence in the Judiciary, most of the courts in the districts are in unacceptable conditions.
We understand that metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) are expected to build modern designed court edifices for use by the courts. But most of these assemblies are unable to provide these facilities, since a number of them do not have space for the full complement of staff, not to mention facilities for other branches of governance.
It is in this vein that we suggest a closer collaboration between the Judiciary and the MMDAs to find a way to provide the facilities for the smooth running of the courts outside Accra. To leave the provision of these facilities solely in the hands of the assemblies would mean the courts will continue to operate in deplorable conditions for a long time to come.
We can ensure effective delivery of justice when we provide the necessary resources to ensure that judges and the entire Judiciary staff, as well as litigants, have a conducive atmosphere to operate in.