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Atuguba deplores working conditions for judges; wants salaries increased

Supreme Court judge, Justice William Atuguba has deplored what he said is the poor working conditions of members of the bench.

The judge, famed for his role in the 2012 election petition said Ghana’s clamour for rule of law and justice are at risk of being compromised if necessary action is not taken to address the salaries and working conditions of the judges.

He made the statement at the annual magistrates and judges’ conference held Wednesday.

“Judicial office is the most exacting and onerous of all the professions. Any objective attempt at the gratification of this assertion by anyone will lead to its biometric accuracy.

“The sheer volume of litigation, the violent, complex and legal issues involved in almost every case and the range of research these entail are probably unknown to the public.

“Working under such conditions is particularly stressful against a background of poor remuneration and other working condition,” he stated.

Quoting a comment by the late Peter Ala Adjetey, the Supreme Court judge said “the conditions of service of judges in this country are simply a disgrace. It is generally felt that judges do not receive a living wage and that their salaries are inadequate to enable them to live in dignity and to maintain their families as they should.”

Whilst admitting there has been some improvement in the conditions of service, he was quick to add that it has not been “radical enough.”

He called on the Bar, the Bench and the Judicial Council to engage the Article 71 Committee on Emoluments to design a salary structure with “enhanced leave allowance” to compensate for the tireless efforts by the judges.

There are fears the poor working conditions of the judges may compromise some of them in the discharge of their responsibilities as happened in the Anas Aremeyaw Anas undercover bribery scandal that hit the judiciary.

Justice Atuguba’s comments come at a time the judiciary is fighting to repair the dented image that came with the revelations in the Anas scandal.

The Brong Ahafo Chair of the Bar Association, Alfred Tuah Yeboah agreed with Atuguba saying the standard of living of judges is poor and could have been better.

He told Joy News the salaries of judges at the circuit and magistrate courts are even worse as compared to their colleagues at the Superior courts.

Tuah Yeboah did not understand why the budget of judges would have to be cut by the executive or the legislature.

“If you look at the remuneration, the way they work, their salary would have to be relooked at,” he suggested.

He said apart from few judges who live in flats in some of the regional capitals a huge number of them live in very terrible conditions as compared to the political office holder.

Tuah Yeboah said if the conditions of service of the judges are not improved the chances of some of them being compromised is very high.

Story by Ghana|Myjoyonline.com|Nathan Gadugah

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