Corruption claims hit the heart of the Ghanaian judiciary
An undercover investigation has implicated a large number of judicial officials in corrupt practices.
Video and audio footage taken during the two‑year investigation by Anas Aremeyaw Anas, an investigative reporter but also a qualified lawyer, allegedly implicates more than 180 judicial officials, including 22 junior judges and 12 High Court judges. Mr Anas secretly recorded himself offering bribes to judges both as a lawyer and as a litigant, which he claims changed the outcome of cases. The footage has not yet been publicly aired, but is now in the hands of the chief justice, Georgina Theodora Wood. The 34 judges alleged to have taken bribes and extorted money have been summoned to appear in front of Ms Wood and the Judicial Council in the wake of these findings.
This investigation has cast serious doubt over the integrity of the judiciary and will obviously have a negative impact on its reputation. The country’s courts have traditionally been seen as a model in Africa for the positive use of the rule of law. In addition, this news will be detrimental to Ghana’s democracy, especially as the outcome of the 2012 presidential election was settled via the court system. There is no implication that that judgement was affected by corrupt practices, but with the 2016 elections fast approaching and more close results likely, losing sides in any legal settlements are likely to be less accepting of the verdict if they have lost trust in the judicial system. Indeed, how the issue is now dealt with and resolved will be crucial to stamping out corruption, rebuilding the judiciary’s reputation and reinforcing its integrity. So far the process has been handled by the book; Mr Anas has been granted immunity under the Whistle-blowers Act 2006 and has himself followed the constitutional process by formally “petitioning the president and the chief justice”. But these are only the first steps and there will now be enormous pressure on Ms Wood to ensure a transparent and thorough investigation into the accusations.
Impact on the forecast
Although this case will not directly affect our forecast for ongoing political stability, if it is not handled correctly it will do lasting damage to the credibility of the judiciary. A credible judiciary is necessary for a strong democracy. Furthermore, the accusations may do some economic harm, undermining confidence, particularly of potential foreign investors. We will reflect this in the forecast.