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Cap Supreme Court judges at 17 – Justice Honyenuga

A Supreme Court nominee, Justice Clemence Honyenuga, has advocated the limiting of the number of judges on Ghana’s apex court to 17.

“We can give a limit. We can increase it to 17. We can give the upper limit of 17 Supreme Court judges,” he told the Appointments Committee of Parliament when he appeared for vetting on Monday.

There are 14 judges at the country’s highest court and Justice Honyenugah explained that the small size creates challenges in empanelling when presented with several cases simultaneously.

Joe Osei Owusu overrules question to SC nominee who endorsed second-term for Akufo-Addo

Problems also arise when judges recuse themselves because of conflicts of interest.

He cited an example of a case involving the Akuapem Traditional Council. All four Supreme Court judges at the time who hailed from that part of the country recused themselves.

This created a shortage of Supre Court judges who could sit on the case, leading to undue delays.

The Judge of the Court of Appeal advised that the number of appointments to the Supreme Court should be done by an amendment of Article 144(2) of the 1992 Constitution.

In his view, such a move would permit sufficient empanelling for cases at all times.

Minor offenders in prison should be released because of COVID-19

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has led to 4,700 confirmed cases, with 494 recoveries and 22 deaths, Justice Honyenugah suggested that inmates who committed minor offences should be freed to decongest the country’s prisons.

The nominee, who is also the Chairman of the Ghana Remand Review Taskforce supervising the Justice for All Programme, described congestion at the prisons as “terrible”.

He fears an outbreak at the prisons could “wipe out” inmates.

President  Akufo-Addo has granted amnesty to 808 inmates since the country recorded positive cases.

The decision is in accordance with Article 72 (1) of the Constitution and its beneficiaries include sick convicts.

Three inmates were aged; 783 first-time offenders; 11 were seriously ill; 7 prisoners on death row will be commuted to life imprisonment and prisoners serving a life sentence will be commuted to 20 years definite term.

“The first-time offenders totalling 783 who have served half of their sentences, 11 seriously ill prisoners and three aged (very old) prisoners are to be released outright.” a statement signed by the Director of Prisons, Patrick Darko Missah, said on March 26.

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