Jurors in Sekondi courts suspend services over unpaid allowances

Over 25 jurors recruited to sit and give verdict in criminal cases before the three High Courts in Sekondi have suspended their services with immediate effect.

The jurors say until their backlog of allowances were cleared, they would not return to the Court rooms, sit and hear criminal cases and consequently pass verdict.

The jurors announced the suspension of their services in a letter addressed to the Supervising High Court Judge, Her lady Emefa Agbemeva and copied to the Senior Registrar of the Sekondi High Court.

The letter, dated May 2, 2023 with the headline “RE: Boycotting of Court Proceedings due to unpaid Allowances from February 2022 till Date” was also copied to the Regional Bar Association and the chief State Attorney amongst others.

Details of the letter indicate that allowances due the jurors have not been paid since February 2022 till date and the current economic hardship coupled with cost of transportation was the major reason they considered in suspending their services.

“We hereby write to notify your High office and the relevant stakeholders of our intention to boycott court proceedings over unpaid allowances from May 2, 2022 to 2023. Allowances have not been paid since February 2022 till date.

“The current economic hardship coupled with cost of transportation is making or work as jurors very difficult. We have, therefore, taken a decision not to attend court sittings until allowances for the year 2022 are fully paid,” portions of the letter read.

A juror who spoke to The Chronicle on condition of anonymity said that the allowances are determined based on the number of cases a juror sits on.

According to him, in December last year, the group wrote a letter to the Supervising High Court Judge and the Registrar amongst others, threatening to suspend their services over the unpaid allowances, but the Senior Registrar at the Sekondi High Court intervened with the promise that the monies will be paid by the first quarter of the 2023, but that promise has not been fulfilled.

He said this development, coupled with the current economic hardship, is making life difficult for jurors, hence their decision to suspend their services.

“We are in May and no allowances have been paid as I speak to you, a reason this time round we have decided to suspend our services to the court by way of sit down strike

“Mostly, the court will sit and one or two jurors have not arrived and the case would either be stepped down or adjourned. The truth is that jurors are not sitting on cases because they don’t have transportation fare”.

Speaking on the effect of the strike, our source indicated that criminal cases would be left hanging and this will negatively affect the parties in the cases.

“Mind you, it is the jurors who determine fate of accused by passing verdict and the Judge’s duty is only to pass sentence. So without the jurors, there is no way a judge can pass sentence or for a case to be heard”.

He beseeched the government to make a commitment to clear the outstanding allowances from February 2022 to date to enable them resume their services to the Court.


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