A leading member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr. Arthur Kennedy has called on Ghana’s Parliament to unambiguously define what ‘Contempt’ is so people will not be cited unnecessarily by the Supreme Court hearing the 2012 Presidential Election Petition.
Arthur Kennedy who has been an occasional ‘letter writer’ to the Supreme Court since the commencement of the live telecast of the election petition, was reacting to the recent Supreme Court’s stance on open letters to the court.
“The Parliament should establish a law describing vividly what contempt is so we (Ghanaians) will know what contempt is, who should be prosecuted for contempt and the due processes so as people we will not be cited for contempt and be jailed. We don’t want such things to occur again,” he requested.
The President of the Panel of judges hearing the election petition case, Justice William Atuguba on Wednesday warned writers of opinion pieces and open letters to the court that the practice is contemptuous.
He said writing letters to a judge on a matter pending in court is contemptuous and the practice should cease. Justice Atuguba made the comment when he drew the public’s attention to some developments that had come to the notice of the court, especially people writing letters to the judges.
Justice Atuguba nevertheless stated that in reality many Ghanaians did not understand the intricacies of the law profession. “A lay man is a lay man,” he added.
But Dr. Arthur Kennedy who recently wrote one of such pieces, in an interview with Adom FM said “I am a little bit confused about the contempt issues. What I know is that, when you say something wrong about the court that will affect the court’s hearing, you can be cited for contempt. Now to my understanding, what Justice Atuguba is saying is that, when you even write to the court, you can be cited for contempt”
“…If that is the case, then they (Judges) have a lot to do by explaining into details what contempt is. This contempt issue is really confusing. Parliament should establish a law to define this is to the lay man’s understanding,” he said.
Though the former NPP Director of Communication pointed out that he does not agree with the court’s directive, he nonetheless promised to desist from writing open letters to the court.
“I don’t agree with the judges that we should stop writing to the court but with the respect I have for them (Judges) I will stop writing. He (Justice Atuguba) never said we should not comment on the case so I will stop writing to the court but will comment on the court issues. I can even write about the court issues in a form of poetry,” he added.
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