The feeling of anger and disgust at the sentencing of our friends by the Supreme Court is very understandable. I agree with you that whatever the wrongs the accused persons may have committed the sentencing, while it should serve as a measure of deterrent, should also have taken into consideration the constitutional requirements of freedom of speech and press freedom. In addition, I think the judiciary should have borne in mind the perception that may be created of high-handed and judicial tyranny by the method of redress it had chosen and they severity of the sentences notwithstanding the real and palpable remorse publicly shown by the accused persons.
However, the answer in my very humble view, is not the resort to executive intervention by the grant of pardon. Let us step back for a moment. What will be the effect or, at least, the perception of the grant of pardon? It would constitute a direct undermining of the judiciary in a manner that is unprecedented in recent times save for the appointment by President Kufuor of an additional justice of the Supreme Court to achieve a collateral purpose. And what happened in that instance? President Kufuor was pounded by most of us including our development partners; and it is a legacy that has followed him into retirement from active politics? Is that what we want for our President?
While most people comment on the the length of the sentence, it seems to be lost on us that the four months uncannily spans the hottest period of the campaign towards the presidential and general elections. By the grant of an executive pardon would we not be falling into a trap by dashing to the opposition a crucial rallying and campaign message of undermining the judiciary?
I ask you all, very humbly and respectfully to pause for a moment and reflect on the immense pressure we are bringing to bear on the person who will lead the party into the next election to take a step that may harm the party’s chances. Let’s please reflect on this and reduce pressure on His Excellency the President.
What are the alternatives? There is opportunity to apply for a review, for what it is worth. In the meantime, let us continue to state publicly what our views are about the sentences, choosing moderate language and still showing respect to the judiciary. After all when it came to the crunch in 2013, it is this same body that held the balance. Let that body not see NDC as the enemy. Let’s accept its verdict while we take formal steps to take a second bite at the cherry.
In the meantime, let’s not forgot those who have been convicted. Let’s visit them regularly and publicly and make sure they are as comfortable as is possible within the constraints of the prison. Let’s show that we have not forgotten them. Let’s make sure their families are not disadvantaged beyond their absence, and let us continue to pray for them.
God bless the NDC
Source: Tony Lithur