Director of the William Ofori Atta Institute of Integrity at the Central University, Prof. Ken Attafuah
Legal practitioner and Director of the William Ofori Atta Institute of Integrity at the Central University, Prof.
Ken Attafuah has said that open and dispassionate discourse on national issues is suffering because of the lopsided understanding attributed to the concept of ‘contempt of court’.
In his opinion “our ability to think and speak about judicial processes has been severely constrained by the fear of contempt of court.”
Prof Ken Attafuah was speaking at a two-day workshop for senior media practitioners and political leaders organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and under the auspices of the Ghana Political Parties’ Programme on Sunday.
According to the seasoned lawyer, “the concept of contempt of court is one of the most abused concepts in contemporary Ghana.
We use the phrase abusively, quite too often to contain free speech; free speech is superior to the fear of contempt, and yet what contempt of court seeks to control is predetermining the outcome of a case.
Speaking about a case in such a manner as to decide it for the judge so that when a judgement is given which is contrary to what had been projected by you, then the public will say “ah, this person said this was going to be the decision, we have ‘B’.
It means the court or the judge is corrupt.
Public confidence in that decision is undermined.”
Prof Ken Attafuah further noted that therefore that the concept does not mean that “people cannot discuss cases as they proceed.
It is seeking to determine the outcome that is the problem.”
Drawing parallels between the concept of contempt of court and media reportage, he pointed out that “it is seeking to for example with respect to covering election campaigning and processes.
It is seeking to give the impression that candidate ‘A’ or party ‘A’ has won already or will win; doing so in advance undermines the credibility of the electoral outcome.
Click the audio link above to listen to Prof Ken Attafuah
By: Philip Kofi Ashon/citifmonline.com/Ghana