Criticise us as violently as you can but don’t insult us – Chief Justice to media

The Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, has asked media practitioners in the country to be decorous in their commentaries towards the members of the judicial arm of government.

At a press conference on Tuesday, a Supreme Court Judge, Yonny Kulendi who was speaking on behalf of the Chief Justice noted that the arbiter is open for criticism but would not accept insults.

According to him, the judiciary is a human institution, thus, has some imperfections, however, it will be imprudent for media houses to use their medium to channel out abusive words towards adjudicators.

“The Chief Justice says I should tell you that ‘as trustees of the people power of justice, we are willing and happy to be criticised. Criticise us as violently as you can, but for Christ sake, don’t insult us. Don’t berate us, don’t speak hatred and malign us.

“Don’t [insult us] because, like yourselves and the work that you do and the heart that you bring to bear on it, it is a similar responsibility and consciousness that judges use to embrace their work,” he told the reporters at a joint Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and Judicial Service press briefing.

The media briefing comes after lawyers of the Judicial Service of Ghana demanded that all stories deemed “hateful, and incendiary” against Justices of the Supreme Court be pulled down from their online platforms.

But leaders of GJA kicked sternly against the order describing it as a way of gagging the fourth estate.

But explaining further, Justice Kulendi said the Judiciary is not seeking to silence the media but to urge them to be circumspect in the information it churns out.

“You’ll have to take this phase of the responsibility very seriously. It is as important as the role you have performed in transmitting the proceedings worldwide because at the end of the day the Ghanaian people own the process.

“So it is important that they understand what went on and when the judges speak irrespective of our preferences, our likes and dislikes by the rules of engagement the referee blows the whistle and the lots fall where they fall. And so let’s be constructive, let’s be proactive,” he said.

Highlighting the dilemma judges go through to pronounce a judgment, Mr Kulendi called on the citizenry to appreciate their efforts in adjudicating issues.

“As a lawyer, I thought I knew judges; I spent my whole life in these buildings and I thought I understood it all. But in the transition I have made, I have come to appreciate the complexities, difficulties and challenges of being a judge.

“And sometimes the sleeplessness of going through in making sure that you can take a decision that you live with in your conscience and that you are true to your own.

“And so by all means critisise us because you are the owners of the process, we are just trustees and agents. But let’s be circumspect about vile improper, unfortunate language.”

Commenting on the ongoing election petition, Justice Kulendi said, the judicial service will make available all necessary resources to assist reporters in educating the general public about the proceedings.

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