Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah JSC, has opined that the judiciary and the position it occupies within our constitutional architecture requires that information about it must be accurate and handled with utmost care not to deceive the public.
According to him, when information that is not true about pending cases is spread about the judiciary, it undermines trust in their work and eats away at the very foundations of our republic.
He asserted that Ghana must and will remain a bastion of freedom of speech.
However, we must urgently address the issues of standards and propriety in relation to court reporting, else we leave ourselves vulnerable to misinformation that will mislead citizenry,” he added.
He was speaking at the inauguration of the Judicial Press Corps and the launch of ‘Reporting from the Court; A Handbook for Journalists’, today, Monday, November 15, 2021.
The Chief Justice said he was pleased that the Judicial Press Corps, a team of journalists with training, skills and access that will enable them to properly relay information about the Courts and events relevant to it, to the general public had been inaugurated.
He was hopeful the press corps would perform their duty extremely well and reminded them that matters relating to matrimonial causes, should not be subject to publication.
He was also happy to see the publication of the Handbook for Journalists, which he believes would serve as a basic book for court reporters and indeed all journalists whose work brings them into contact with the Courts.
”With these two innovations, it is my hope that we are entering a new era of cooperation and partnership between the media and the Judiciary. Indeed, I believe that our democracy requires the press and Judiciary to work together.
“We must focus on efforts to build trust between us, so we can build confidence in our institutions from the general public. Let today be the day we take the first decisive steps towards this new era,” he added.
On his part, the President of the Ghana Journalists Association, Mr. Affail Monney, applauded the judiciary for the initiative and urged the court reporters to take the handbook as their Bible and Quran.
He said the GJA is inclined to expect the court reporters to be guided by professional standards in their reports.
He bemoaned what he described as frequent attacks of journalists in court premises saying it has become a dominant theme of certain high-profile cases.
Mr. Monney said in some instances, the Police are complicit in the matter and has therefore urged the Judiciary to intensify security at the courts to stop such attacks and punish the perpetrators.
Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), Mr. Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo, was happy that the journalists who are working within the judiciary have found it necessary to come together.
He said this would allow them to work and learn from each other as court reporters.
The initiative he opined would improve upon the quality of the performance of the reporters, so they will stop embarrassing themselves, the judiciary and ”anybody”.
While commending the judiciary for the handbook, he was of the thinking that the judiciary should have collaborated with the NMC to develop the guidelines adding, the NMC is mandated to develop guidelines of this nature.
He was hopeful that when it becomes necessary for review, the Judiciary would collaborate with the NMC to get inputs from them.
The handbook is intended to help journalists in Ghana craft accurate, comprehensive and unambiguous stories from the viewpoint of the law for the consumption of the general public, and thereby helping the populace to understand the judicial system of the country.
It also has useful information such as the Court hierarchy, legal phrases, terminologies and Courtroom language and the correct titles for judges and magistrates.