The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, has issued a caution to individuals who proffer commentary on high-profile criminal cases in the country.
In a recent statement, he emphasized that such commentary exceeds the boundaries of free speech, disrupts the work of State Prosecutors, and places unnecessary pressure on the courts.
The Attorney-General stressed that every individual in Ghana, regardless of their citizenship or social status, is equal before the law. He firmly asserted that nobody is exempt from Ghana’s laws and everyone is subject to their full enforcement.
The Attorney-General’s response comes in the wake of an appeal made by Dormaahene, Oseadeeyo Agyeman Badu II, who serves as both a traditional leader and a high court judge. Oseadeeyo Agyeman Badu II had appealed for the charges levelled against Member of Parliament for Assin North, James Gyakye Quayson to be dropped.
Oseadeeyo Agyeman Badu II made the appeal during the John Evans Atta Mills 10th Anniversary Commemorative lecture held in Sunyani on July 1.
Dismissing the appeal, the Attorney-General, in a two-page response, described such calls as unfortunate and unwarranted.
Below is the full statement by the Attorney General
RE: UNJUSTIFIED COMMENTARY ABOUT PENDING CRIMINAL AND OTHER CASES AND ATTACKS ON STATE ATTORNEYS
The Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice has observed with serious concern the increased tendency for various persons,
including members of the legal profession of considerable standing, to run extremely prejudicial commentary on cases pending before the
The cases which have been the subject of unwarranted public commentary include but are not limited to, Republic vrs. James Gyakye-Quayson, Republic vrs. Dr Stephen Opuni & 2 Others and Republic vrs. Cassiel Ato Forson & 2 Others.
1. Whilst respecting the freedom of all persons in Ghana to comment on any matter including cases pending in court, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice take note that much of the recent commentary on many of the so-called high-profile criminal cases transgresses permissible limits of free speech, unduly interferes with the work of State Prosecutors performing their constitutional function of prosecuting crime in Ghana and tends to put unnecessary pressure on the courts.
2. The Attorney-General respectfully reminds Ghanaians of the principle of the equality of all persons before the law enshrined in Article 17(1) of the Constitution. No person living in Ghana, citizen or non-citizen, is above the laws of Ghana or immune from an
application of same.
3. The attorneys-general’s constitutional responsibility for the “initiation and conduct of all prosecutions of criminal offences” implies a duty to prosecute a crime committed in Ghana, after proper investigations have been conducted, irrespective of the political, race, colour, ethnic, religion, economic or social status of the culprit. State Attorneys assisting the Attorney-General in the performance of this hallowed constitutional mandate, operate under extreme pressure and are exposed to severe risks. They have the right to prosecute cases freely in a court of law just as private legal practitioners enjoy a right to defend their clients, free from abuse and attacks on their character.
4. The decision to prefer a charge against an accused person is not made on the basis of a person’s political status, social or economic standing but on the strength of evidence subject to the scrutiny of the courts. An acquittal of a person by the courts does not imply malice on the part of the Republic in the filing of a charge. The perception that a crime committed by a person of high political standing in society should not be prosecuted is dangerous for society and must not be countenanced.
5. The Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice observes that many of the recent comments by various persons on some criminal matters, particularly those mentioned above (widely publicised in the media), clearly exceed the bounds of acceptable speech as they seek to disparage prosecutors in the eyes of the public and frustrate prosecution of those cases. Some of the comments are orchestrated to pervert the course of justice and/or prejudice the fair hearing and determination of the cases.
6. The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, in the discharge of his duty to protect the administration of justice from abuse, hereby entreats the general public to permit the streams of justice to flow freely and uncontaminated by undue comments and pressure on the courts.
7. The Attorney-General finally cautions that no immunity is conferred by a person’s position in Parliament, the Judiciary, Traditional Authority, the Bar, or any official position, from the consequences of an interference in the administration of justice or an attempt to overreach a judgment to be delivered by the court in any matter. We must respect due process.