Ken Kuranchie and Stephen Atubiga being led into the prison van
A Lecturer at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ghana, Mr. Kissi Adjabeng, has questioned the posture of the Supreme Court in respect of the contempt charges it brought against some two persons.
Kissi Adjabeng said it appeared as though the Supreme Court was looking out for an apologetic person before handing down its judgement.
“It appears that with the posture of the court now they expect you to come apologizing profusely and if you do not apologise in such profusion, then they are going to take it against you.
“…The law does not require, in my opinion, anyone to come pleading before the court. What the law will require you to do, as a person is that if you are cited for contempt, you in your own volition can choose to purge yourself of the contempt,” he stated on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM.
Kissi Adjabeng was reacting to the incarceration by the Supreme Court of two persons charged and found guilty of criminal contempt.
Ken Kuranchie of the Daily Searchlight newspaper and Stephen Atubiga of the NDC were yesterday committed to 13 days imprisonment- ten- and three days respectively- having made disparaging comments against the court.
In their ruling, read by Justice William Atuguba, President of the nine member panel hearing the Presidential Election Petition, said because Atubiga was remorseful and apologetic he was sentenced to three days imprisonment but because Kuranchie was not the least remorseful, he will be jailed for ten days.
That posture, Kissi Adjabeng noted was dangerous.
“It is as if, if you are cited for contempt and you go before the court you are expected then to go on your knees and start pleading for your liberty and if you don’t do that, it is going to earn you ten days [in prison],” he explained.
Even though he conceded that the Supreme Court is vested with the power of sanctions, whether or not a person apologises before it or not, he was quick to add that the contempt charge is highly subjective and amenable to abuse.
“…In this instance when it comes to speech or expressing ones opinion on a subject in court or running a commentary, it becomes very dangerous in the sense that you will not be too sure as to what will amount to what is fair or what will not sit well with the judges.
“The singular word that took Ken Kuranchie to prison yesterday was the word hypocritical,” he said.
“Because of this highly subjective and dangerous nature of contempt that is why it is should be exercised with circumspection,” Kissi Adjabeng argued.
Another lawyer, Samson Lardy Ayenini, who was also on the show partly disagreed with the views shared by Kissi Adjabeng.
He said with the court having already issued countless warnings, any attempt to disobey those warnings could qualify as contempt.
“If you have followed some of the comments made in respect of this Supreme Court case, you would be left with no other conclusion than to accept the decision by the court,” he said.