A Pressure group, Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA), has petitioned the Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo to get the government to fully comply with the ruling of the African Court for Human and People’s Rights regarding the payment of some GHC 51.2 million judgment debt from business man Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
The group’s petition follows an order from the Arusha-based court on November 24, 2017, that all steps by the state to retrieve the GHC 51 million from Mr. Woyome be stopped.
The Supreme Court and Deputy Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, after the African Court ruling, questioned the capacity of the Court to rule over the matter.
A five-member panel at the Supreme Court, unanimously dismissed the application asking the retrieval of the debt from Mr. Woyome to halt.
Read the petition below:
PETITION TO DEMAND FOR FULL COMPLIANCE OF THE AFRICAN COURT FOR HUMAN AND PEOPLE’S RIGHTS RULING FOR INTERIM MEASURE BY THE GOVERNMENT OF GHANA
Her Ladyship, the Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana, I write this petition to you in my capacity first as a Ghanaian citizen with full rights and duty under Article 3(4,5,6 and 7) of the 1992 constitution of Ghana to defend the constitution of Ghana at all times. I also write in my capacity as the Executive Secretary of the Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) which is a youth base public accountability and advocacy group in Ghana based in Kumasi the Ashanti regional capital.
On Friday 24th November, 2017, there was a ruling by the African Court for Human and People’s Right (ACHPR) in Arusha Tanzania, (a court which you have served as a judge, a vice president and subsequently President) for a provisional measure for Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome who is a Ghanaian citizen and a respondent in a case currently being heard at the Supreme Court of Ghana.
What has triggered this petition Your Ladyship is the posture of our Supreme Court and that of the Deputy Attorney General of Ghana who is representing the state in the matter mentioned above. The Supreme Court seemed to be subtly dismissive of the African Court ruling when it sat on the same case which the African Court had ruled for an interim measure on the 28th of November, 2017.In an attempt to arrest the Supreme Court ruling, the provisional measure was brought to the attention of the Court in accordance to Article 40,75 and 88 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana but the court held that it was the final court of law and that it wouldn’t share its constitutional powers with anyone and went ahead to give its ruling.
After this incident, the Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Mr. Godfred Yeboah Dame granted an interview to journalists which he overtly questioned the capacity and jurisdiction of the African Court.
Please kindly permit me to reiterate the following facts which I know you are very much aware of as a former President of the ACHPR.
Ghana signed unto the protocol establishing the African Court on the 9th June, 1998.The protocol was subsequently ratified by the Parliament of Ghana after prior approval by cabinet on the 25th of August, 2004 and was then deposited at the African Court on the 16th August, 2004.
Her ladyship, kindly allow me to use this opportunity to remind you that you were the first female judge appointed to the African Court in 2006.A position you occupied in honor of the people of the Republic of Ghana, the State then supported you in your election to the position of Vice President of the Court in September 2008, and re-elected for another term in September 2010 and then subsequently elected as President of the Court from 2012 to 2014.
Her ladyship, on the 15th day of March, 2013, the ACHPR presided over by your honorable self (Sophia A.B.Akuffo unanimously ruled for provisional measures against Kenya in a matter concerning the Mau forest Complex.(Case No.006/2012) African commission for Human and People’s rights V the Republic of Kenya which is attached and labeled ASEPA 001.
In this case her ladyship, your court upheld that Kenya reinstates the restrictions it had imposed on the land transaction in the Mau Forest Complex and refrain from any act or thing that would or might irreparably prejudice the main application before the court until final determination of the said application and report to the court hereof in fifteen days on the steps taken to implement this measure.
This order was humbly obeyed by the republic of Kenya who has also signed unto the protocol establishing the African Court and ratified same.
The second case I would like to refer to is the matter of Lohe Issa Konate V The Republic of Burkina Faso (Application No.004/2013) which is attached and labeled ASEPA 002.
Her ladyship this case just like the previous one was presided over by your honorable self, you ruled for some provisional measures for the provision of medical attention for Mr.Konate who had been incarcerated by the Republic of Burkina Faso, a measure which was duly complied by the Republic of Burkina Faso.
Her ladyship, The Republic of Rwanda has also had its share of your supreme judgment as the President of the African Court when you presided over the case of Chrysanthe Rutabingwa V the Republic of Rwanda (Case No.003/2103) which is attached and labeled ASEPA 003.
All these and other judgments you gave in your capacity as President of the African Court were duly complied with by all respondent States and so today if you are the Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana and the same Court which you presided over previously has given a ruling for a provisional measure for a Ghanaian citizen, and there are attempts to dismiss or ignore the ruling by Ghana(respondent State) then we need to know what you are doing in collaboration with the Government of Ghana in your capacity as the Head of the Judiciary to enforce this orders from the African Court for Human and People’s Right(ACHPR).
Her Ladyship, I am not qualified to educate you on these matters because I come nowhere close to you in terms of knowledge on these matters but kindly allow me to state one or two provisions to make my point clearer.
Article 34 of the Protocol (Ratification) establishing the ACHPR states that “at the time of ratification of this protocol or anytime thereafter, the State shall make a declaration accepting the competence of the court to receive cases under Article 5(3) of this protocol”. Now permit me to say that the conduct and pronouncements of the Deputy Attorney General is in serious contravention of these provisions in the protocol and he must therefore be brought to order by the Government of Ghana.
Again the statement by the Deputy Attorney General that the laws in Ghana should be superior to International laws and that international laws should be made to conform to our domestic laws is totally at variance with Article 18 of the Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties which Ghana is a signatory to.
If you will allow me your ladyship The Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties article 18 states; “A state should refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purpose of a treaty when
a. It has signed a treaty or has exchanged instruments constituting the treaty subject to ratification, acceptance or approval, until it shall have made its intention clear not to become a party to the treaty; or
b. It has expressed its consent to be bound by the treaty, pending entry into force of the treaty and provided that such entry into force is not unduly delayed”.
This provision in the Vienna Conventions clearly says that countries that are parties to a treaty should not be involved in any acts or enact laws that contravene the provisions in the treaty.
Secondly the provisional measure from the ACHPR was directed at the Government of Ghana represented by the Attorney General in accordance with Article 40, 75 and 88 of the 1992 constitution of Ghana.
It is therefore the duty of the Attorney General who represents the State to bring the order to the notice of the Government of Ghana and make sure it is complied with ditto ditto.
Thirdly there are several other cases like the Balkan Energy case and the Bankswich case that also went for International arbitration that the state has honored the respective judgments. Just recently Ghana went to the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLoS) for an arbitration of a boundary dispute between Ghana and Ivory Coast.
Considering the fact that it was the Republic of Ghana that filed the case at the ITLoS means that the country recognizes the authority and jurisdiction of the ITLoS which Ghana is a signatory to, So why then would the same country not recognize the capacity and jurisdiction of an African Court (which it is a signatory to and has ratified the protocols establishing the court) to make a determination of a case involving the State and a Ghanaian citizen?
As a public Accountability and Advocacy group we are very worried about the fact that the international media may capture the position of the DAG as the official position of the Government of Ghana and that may present a huge embarrassment to Ghana among the African and the International communities considering the fact that our own Chief Justice was a former President of the Court and has given judgments against several countries which were duly complied with by those countries. The diplomatic consequences thereof for our country would be immeasurable.
Her ladyship, Please allow me to also draw your attention to another case that many may refer to as case of double standard by Ghana and do not reflect a good image for our country. A Nigerian businessman by name Chude Mba has secured a default judgment from the ECOWAS Court based in Nigeria against Ghana for a sum US$800 000 .The state has taken steps to pay the judgment sum to the applicant in the next three months, now this judgment from the ECOWAS Court also contradicts the previous ruling by the Ghanaian Court.
But If Ghana can comply with a ruling from an ECOWAS Court, why would the state then attempt to dismiss/ignore/disobey an order from the African Court which is a more superior Court than the ECOWAS Court?
Finally your ladyship, Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome is not the only Ghanaian citizen and that the laws of Ghana cannot change because of one man.
Dismissing this judgement by the ACHPR means denying over 20 million Ghanaians potential access to justice from the African Courts and other International tribunals.
Based on the issues raised above we petition your honorable office to as matter of urgency supervise the compliance of the ACHPR provisional measure directed to the Government of Ghana and persuade them to report to the ACHPR within the stipulated 15days on the steps taken to enforce the order by the ACHPR.
We also want you to advise Government as the Head of the Judiciary to come out with an official Government of Ghana’s position on the ruling by the ACHPR to clear any doubt that anyone may have about the government ignoring or disobeying the order from the African Court a Court you have toiled over the years to bring to the level it is right now.
We pray that the state stays away from any form of execution processes against Mr. Woyome until the final determination of the substantive case by the ACHPR.
It is our hope that immediate steps would be taken to address these issues to sustain Ghana’s image as beacon of hope for Africa and the hub of rule of law on the continent of Africa and the Comity of Nations.