Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, the Chief Justice of Ghana, has advised the public to refrain from paying bribes to court officials who claim to collect money on behalf of judges in exchange for favourable decisions.
She revealed that such money is often not requested by judges and is used by unscrupulous court staff to enrich themselves. Justice Torkornoo urged citizens to report any court staff soliciting money under the pretext of passing it to a judge to the Judicial Service.
The Chief Justice made these remarks during separate Chief Justice Community Sensitisation programs held in Akwatia and Kraboa Coaltar in the Eastern Region. The program aims to demystify the judiciary‘s work and foster an understanding of legal principles among the public.
Justice Torkornoo emphasized the importance of cooperation from the public in identifying cases of bribery demanded by court staff.
She indicated that reporting such instances would enable the Judicial Service to curb the unethical activities of staff members who exploit court users by collecting money with the pretence of giving it to judges.
She cautioned, “Any court registrar, interpreter, clerk, recorder, or any staff who asks for money to be given to a judge is a thief. The truth is that in the majority of these instances, the judges have not requested any money; the money does not go to them, and they are not even aware.”
Justice Torkornoo highlighted that the culture of demanding money before performing court duties is detrimental to the Judiciary's image and vowed to address such misconduct through stringent measures.
The Chief Justice announced plans to introduce court user guides explaining the jurisdictions of various courts to improve public understanding.
The sensitization program aims to strengthen trust and confidence in the Judiciary while promoting community engagement. Participants have the opportunity to ask questions about the judicial process, with the Chief Justice responding and explaining ongoing initiatives to enhance access to justice and fairness.
She encouraged litigants to use the ADR system connected to courts, emphasizing its efficiency and ability to maintain relationships between parties.
The Chief Justice's sensitization programs have been conducted in various communities, including those in the Greater Accra and Eastern Regions, where she engages with the public to address legal concerns and improve the justice delivery system.