Ghana: No Show At Courts

14 November 2019
opinion

Hundreds of court users in Accra and other regional capitals of the country were left stranded yesterday following the industrial strike by the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSAG).

JUSAG on Wednesday embarked on a nationwide indefinite strike over the salary review of its members.

The association had on November 1 served notice to embark on strike if government failed to respond positively to their demands.

When the Ghanaian Times visited the Supreme Court, high courts and circuit courts in Accra, it observed almost all the court rooms were locked, leaving some court users stranded on the court premises.

Some prosecutors and legal practitioner were also spotted having discussions with some of the stranded individuals while others were going to and from the premises.

Some traders were also spotted doing brisk business as they sold some snacks and drinking water to the sad looking court users.

In separate interviews with the Ghanaian Times, some of the court users expressed worry about the situation, saying it would rather extend the period of their trials.

Mr Jackson Agezo, a 27-year-old mechanic apprentice who had a case at the Accra circuit court 4 stated that he travelled all the way from Koforidua to attend trial only to meet a closed court.

He said the situation had inconvenienced him because he did not have a lawyer to discuss the way forward with and did not know what to do any more.

"I am very sad today because of the situation I came to meet. Travelling all the way from the Eastern Region fruitlessly is no joke. What makes my case worst is that I do not know when to come back here again since I do not have a lawyer at the moment and the registrar's office is locked.

I wish they could have communicated this information to us earlier, I would not have wasted my time coming here if I had known," he lamented.

A 75-year-old landlord could also not hide his disappointment as he was being aided by two young men into his vehicle when it became obvious that there would be no proceedings.

He said he would never set his feet on the court premises again because he does not have the strength to go to and from the court till the "so called issues are resolved. I do not have time for drama."

Efforts to speak with some lawyers proved futile as some claimed they also do not know why courts were not sitting.

Also, no member of JUSAG was spotted at any of the court premises the Ghanaian Times visited.

About 100 people were stranded at the District, Circuit and High Courts as well as the Court of Appeal, in the Kumasi Metropolis, as they were unaware of an indefinite strike by the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSSAG) reports Kingsley E. Hope.

Some of the stranded people, especially at the District Court, had gone there to sign bail bonds for their relatives.

"I had just arrived from Sankore to sign a bail bond for a family member, I did not hear about this strike," one of them who gave his name as Kwabena Kontor, told the Ghanaian Times.

He appealed to authorities to ensure peace prevailed and the strike not allowed to affect justice delivery in the country.

Red bands were flying at the courts' premises with some tied to entrance doors.

At the High Court, some of the staff were seen doing some work but not seriously attending to the public.

They were also not prepared to talk to the media.

JUSAG declared an indefinite strike following the refusal of government to implement the consolidation of their salaries and allowances.

The Judicial Council after a review of the conditions of service of workers of the Judicial Service noted that the allowances and salaries of the staff must be consolidated.

But the government has failed to implement the recommendation after the Council forwarded the agreed salary structure

From Takoradi, Clement Adze Boye reports that the administration of justice was crippled as courts in Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis were closed following the JUSAG strike which took effect yesterday.

When the Ghanaian Times visited the Sekondi High Court at about 8.30 am, all doors to the courts had been locked and there were no staff present. The silence at the seat of justice was total.

Lawyers and litigants who went to the court to work or transact business were stranded due to the strike.

"The courts are not sitting. We came to find all doors locked. Not even one. And so we are going back to the office." a State Attorney who cannot be named told the Ghanaian Times at the Sekondi High Court.

Similarly, the Circuit Court near the Takoradi Harbour also did not sit, and, therefore, litigants had to return with disappointments written on their faces.

The premises of the Judicial Service Court Complex in Ho turned desolate yesterday as members of the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSAG) embarked on a strike to back their demand for better service conditions reports Alberto Mario Noretti.

The usual fleet of vehicles which featured daily in the forecourt of the building were absent, while the metal gate at the entrance remained closed.

Apart from a security man who stood by the gate, there were no Judicial Service workers when the Ghanaian Times turned up at the place during working hours.

The National Investment Bank's collection point beneath at the courts building was also shut.

Some people who had cases to be heard at the various courts stopped at the gate and were left with more questions than answers, as there were no court clerks to attend to them.

An official statement issued by the JUSAG on Tuesday and signed by the National President, Alex Nartey, said that, "until the implementation of the Judicial Council Committee's report, no staff/member of JUSAG shall report to work.

From Wa, Lydia Darling Fordjour reports that following the commencement of an industrial strike by the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (HUSAG), the two courts of law at Wa in the Upper West Regional capital; the High and Circuit Courts have been securely bolted with padlocks and designated with red bands to indicate that they were not operational.

As at 2:13pm when the Ghana Times arrived at the High Court on Tuesday afternoon, the gate to the entrance of the main block was locked including the security post and with no staff on sight, not even the security personnel.

There was a client, who had visited the premises to access services from the high court.

Speaking on grounds of anonymity, the client who was unable to access the premises, told the Ghanaian Times that he had come to swear affidavit on behalf of his daughter whose name has been spelt wrongly.

"My daughter is at the Senior High School (SHS) and there has been issues with her name and so she has been asked to swear an affidavit and return the documents to the school on Monday for some documentation processes at Accra," he indicated.

He pleaded with the government to attend to the demands of the judicial service staff in order to get them back to the office, saying, "this institution is very relevant because in this region, we do not have options and this facility serves the entire region; they should expedite action and get them back to work"

The frustrated man left after waiting for close to 30 minutes without any sign of movement within the premises.

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