July 9, 2010

Alfred Kwame Agbesi, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Ashaiman, yesterday clashed with Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Betty Mould-Iddrisu, over some answers she provided on the floor of Parliament.

The Ashaiman MP and former member of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) Board, who has fallen out of favour with the presidency after virtually condemning the seat of government for its poor handling of issues at the state-owned refinery, challenged Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu when she told the House that Ashaiman and Madina Circuit Courts were automated.

According to Hon. Agbesi, who is also a lawyer by profession, Ashaiman and Madina Circuit Courts were not automated, contending that the answer provided by the government’s principal legal adviser could not be true.

Although the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice insisted that her answer was right per the information available to her, she could not convince the lawmakers as they severely heckled her throughout her presentation.

She had a hectic time explaining to the legislators some apparent inconsistencies visibly pointed out in her answers and as always, she attracted boos from opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) MPs.

Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu was dragged to Parliament to answer a number of questions from the MP for Offinso South, Hon. Ben Abdallah Banda, on the computerization of District and Circuit Courts in various parts of the country.

She told the House that automation of the court process was the function of the Judicial Service.

According to her, the process was ongoing and as at now 50 Courts have been fully automated whiles 15 courts are partially automated, adding that by the end of 2010, a further 23 courts would have been fully automated.

She indicated however that the programme was beset with lack of adequate funds to undertake it at a faster rate than what is happening now.

The process, Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu pointed out, involves the provision and installation of recording and transcription machines, recruitment and training of relevant staff to handle the equipment and the conversion of manual documents into electronic format .

She stated that it will require a lot of funds to purchase the equipment, undertake renovations of the courthouses and burglar proofing. It will also take a lot of money to maintain them.

She disclosed that 22 Circuit and District Courts have been automated under various projects. 17 out of these 22 courts were automated through funding by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), whilst the remaining five were financed by Government of Ghana.

They are the Domestic Violence Court – Circuit Court 5, Cocoa Affairs Courts, Accra, Juaben Circuit Court, Koforidua Circuit Court, Kumasi Circuit Court, Ashaiman Circuit Court, Cape Coast Circuit Court, District and Juvenile courts, Accra and Nalerigu District Court.

The others are Koforidua District Court, Tuobodom District Court, Akim Oda District Court, Wassa Akropong District Court, Ho District Court, Apam District Court, Tamale District Court, Ejisu District Court, Bibiani District Court.

The rest are Dunkwa-On-Offin District Court and Tarkwa District Court, Asesewa District Court, Dzodze District Court and Jasikan District Court.

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice also disclosed that 32 High Courts and three Appellate Courts (Supreme Court and Court of Appeal) have been automated.

Furthermore, the Land Administration Project (LAP) also funded four of these courts, all in Accra, whilst DANIDA funded the six Commercial Courts and the Government of Ghana funded the remaining 25 courts.

Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu added that work is partially completed at a number of Circuit and District Courts in various parts of the country and that so far, the recording and transcription equipment have been supplied and installed even though testing of equipment is currently underway and training of relevant staff is yet to be done.

Source: Daily Guide/Ghana