Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Tullow to launch Secondary Listing and Share Offer on Ghana Stock Exchange

31 May 2011 – Tullow Oil plc (Tullow) today announces its plans for a secondary listing of its shares on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) and an offering of 4,000,000 Tullow shares in Ghana.

The offer of Tullow shares on the GSE will give everyone in Ghana the opportunity to apply for shares in Tullow and to share in the future performance of Tullow’s operations across its global portfolio of assets. This listing and share offer further demonstrates Tullow’s long-term commitment to Ghana.

The share price for the offer will be announced on Monday 13 June 2011. Shares can be applied for between 13 June 2011 and 4 July 2011 through Tullow’s sponsoring broker, IC Securities (Ghana) Limited or visiting any branch of Standard Chartered or Agricultural Development Bank in Ghana or the office of any of the authorised receiving agents, see www.tullowoil.com/ghana for more information.

Tullow expects to publish a prospectus which further describes the secondary listing and share offer under Ghanaian law on 13 June 2011. Any decision to invest in shares which form part of the offer should only be made on the basis of information set out in that prospectus.

Commenting today, Aidan Heavey, Chief Executive, said:

Tullow is fortunate to have played a pivotal role in delivering First Oil from the word-class Jubilee field, offshore Ghana. We would like everyone in Ghana to have the opportunity to invest in the future performance of Tullow, especially as we embark upon further exciting exploration and development activities in Ghana and across our global portfolio. With the support of the Ghana Stock Exchange, the Securities and Exchange Commission and Ghanaian advisers and banks, we are making our shares accessible to anyone in Ghana who wishes to take part in the share offer.”

Tullow Group Overview
Tullow is a leading independent oil & gas, exploration and production group, quoted on the London and Irish Stock Exchanges (symbol: TLW) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

The Group has interests in over 90 exploration and production licences across 22 countries and focuses on four core areas: Africa, Europe, South Asia and South America.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

How Ghana's Telecoms Regulator NCA Can Learn From UK Regular OFCOM!

I am yet to come across any research report from the regulator of Ghana's telecoms industry, the National Communications Authority (NCA), which details how the various telecom companies in Ghana rate, in terms of product service delivery and customer satisfaction.

If such a report existed, it would help Ghana's mobile phone owners to make an informed choice, when thinking of which mobile phone network to opt for, for example, when thinking of getting mobile broadband internet access - because they could refer to an existing NCA research report, which lists broadband speeds and bandwidth, of the various mobile phone networks in Ghana.

The NCA needs to protect the interests of mobile phone users in Ghana far better than it has done in the past.

Moreso, now that the telcos in Ghana have bought the services of a brilliant publicist, described by a wag as "the Ghanaian public relations consulting world's equivalent of Rasputin".

One hopes that the NCA will take a leaf from the book of the UK's telecoms industry regulator, Ofcom, and publicise the results of similar research conduct by it here in Ghana, for the benefit of mobile phone users.

To encourage the NCA in that best-practice direction, I am sharing an article entitled, "Ofcom says O2 is fastest mobile broadband operator", which was written by the
Telegraph's Ben Harrington⁠.

It was posted online at 7:38 pm (BST), on 26 May, 2011.

Please read on:

"Ofcom says O2 is fastest mobile broadband operator"

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has found that O2 delivered web pages faster than its rivals, including Vodafone.

Mobile broadband performance was also highly variable across urban areas, with no guarantee of good performance offered in a city centre location.⁠ 

A research report by Ofcom said O2 had been providing the fastest webpage download times for laptop users who rely on modems, also known as dongles, and datacards.

However, the report also showed that the mobile broadband market provided much slower internet access than fixed-line broadband.

Ofcom said: "The average download speed achieved by consumers in Ofcom's consumer panel survey was 1.5 megabits per second and basic webpages took on average 8.5 seconds to download.

This compares with the average fixed-broadband speed of 6.2 megabits per second, and average web page download times on fixed-broadband networks of less than 0.5 seconds."

Mobile broadband performance was also highly variable across urban areas, with no guarantee of good performance offered in a city centre location."

End of culled article from the Daily Telegraph written by Ben Harrington.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Solar: Soon to be Bigger and Cheaper Than Oil

I am sharing this interesting piece on current trends and the outlook for solar energy, which was culled from the Thursday, May 26th 2011 edition of Wealth Wire, where it was posted by the writer, Brittany Stepniak. Please read on:

" General Electric's (GE) global research director Mark M. Little believes solar power will be one of the cheapest forms of electricity within three to five years. Cheaper to use than electricity generated from the currently popular fossil fuels and nuclear reactors.  

Little said he is optimistic that solar prices could, realistically, be at or lower than 15 cents a kilowatt-hour. If that's the case, it is probable that consumers will grow more attracted to using solar electricity.  

Back in April, Conneticut based GE announced that it had improved the efficiencey of the thin-film solar panels -meaning more sunlight was converted to electricity- up to a record-breaking 12.8 percent. Essentially, this efficiency boost will cut production costs without relying on subsidies alone.  

GE has ambitious, yet attainable plans for the future of solar energy.  By 2013, GE intends to have a solar-panel manufacturing plant open and operating. The new development intends to hire about 400 employees; enough workers to generate enough panels to power 80,000 homes annually.  

As the industry is inevitably expanding, solar-panel makers are expanding factories to increase cost savings and keep the industry sustainable.  

"Installations may increase by as much as 50 percent in 2011, worth about $140 billion, as cheaper panels and thin film make developers less dependent on government subsidies," Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecast.

Prices for solar cells, the key ingredient for panel-production, has already fallen 21 percent this year. Researchers say that solar power cost is practically on par with costs of conventional power sources now.  

At the moment, solar-panel sales rake in approximately $28 billion.

Still, it will take quite a long time for the United States to fully tranisition to a complete smart grid. That grid would include "millions of next- generation meters installed in businesses and homes, appliances that adjust their energy use when prices change, and advanced software to help utilities control electricity flows," said Mark Little.  

It is coming along. Slowly, but surely.  
Meanwhile, Little says the emerging solar energy market is one that Congress needs to consider more ardently. He asserts a greater need for certainty in within the tax policy regarding renewable energy." 

Culled from Wealth Wire, May 26th, 2011. 

Renaissance Capital wins multiple awards in Africa ranking

Johannesburg, 26 May 2011 – Renaissance Capital, the leading emerging markets investment bank, has won multiple awards for its research coverage in Africa from South Africa’s foremost weekly financial publication.

In the Financial Mail’s annual “Analyst of the Year” awards, published on 25 May, Renaissance Capital was ranked No. 1 overall (unweighted),

No. 1 for “Other African Economies and Markets,” and No. 3 overall (weighted) in all sectors.

In addition, Renaissance Capital ranked No. 1 overall (unweighted) dealing : Equities,
No. 2 in (weighted) dealing : Equities, and No. 5 in Sales. 

The awards follow a year of expansion for Renaissance’s global research team.

Following the acquisition of leading South African broker BJM in January 2010, Renaissance has more than doubled its research team globally, with over 35 people dedicated to Africa coverage.

“Renaissance Capital’s strong performance in the Financial Mail’s rankings further underscores our firm’s success in building the leading emerging markets research team in Africa and other key geographies, including Russia, CIS, Emerging Europe and Asia,” said David Nangle, Head of Equity Research.

Renaissance Capital’s rankings in the Financial Mail:

Gerhard Engelbrecht : No. 1 – Oil

Emma Townshend: No. 1 – Platinum

Elna Moolman: No. 1 – Econometrics

Renda Rundle: No. 1 – Quants

Johan Snyman: No. 1 – Electronics

Ceri Moodie: No. 1 – Business Support

Rey Wium: No. 1 – Luxury Goods

Jeanine Womersley: No. 1 – Hotels

Ceri Moodie: No. 1 – Diversified industrials

Umulinga Karangwa: No. 2 – Africa (Other African Economies and Markets)

Rey Wium: No. 2 – Innovative Research

Mamokete Lijane: No. 3 – Fixed Income

John Arron: No. 3 – Construction

Ilan Stermer: No. 4 – Banks

Herman van Papendorp: No. 4 – Investment Strategy

Johan Snyman: No. 4 – Telecoms

Johan Snyman: No. 4 – Comp Serv

Johan Snyman and Jeanine Womersley: No. 4 – Financial Industrial Small Caps

Robyn Collins: No. 4 – Pharmaceuticals

Yvonne Mhango: No. 5 – Africa (Other African Economies and Markets)

Mamokete Lijane: No. 5 – Credit Analysis

Ceri Moodie: No. 5 – Corporate Governance

Adriana Benedetti: No. 6 – Paper

Robyn Collins: No. 6 – Food Producers

About Renaissance Capital (www.rencap.com)

Renaissance Capital is a leading investment bank focused on the emerging markets of Russia, CIS, Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.

The Firm also offers its clients access to these markets through financial centers such as London, New York and Hong Kong.  

Renaissance Capital has market-leading positions in each of its core businesses - M&A, equity and debt capital markets, securities sales and trading, research, and derivatives.

The Firm is building market-leading practices across emerging markets globally in metals & mining, oil & gas and agriculture. Renaissance Capital is part of Renaissance Group.

Tullow to acquire the Ghanaian interests of EOGroup Limited for $305 million

26 May 2011 – Tullow Oil plc announces that today it entered into a conditional agreement to acquire the interests of EO Group Limited (EO), consisting of its entire interests offshore Ghana, for a combined share and cash consideration of $305 million.

This acquisition will increase Tullow’s interest in the West Cape Three Points licence offshore Ghana by 3.5% to 26.4% and increase the Group’s interest in the world-class Jubilee Oil field, which Tullow Operates, by 1.75% to 36.5%.

Tullow will issue 10,137,196 ordinary shares of 10p each in the share capital of the Company (“the Shares”) to EO to satisfy approximately $216 million of the consideration. The balance, which will include certain working capital adjustments, will be paid in cash.

The number of shares has been determined using an average of the closing share prices and exchange rates for the five business days up to and including 24 May 2011.

The receipt of Tullow shares as part of the consideration gives EO the opportunity to retain an indirect interest in the upside potential of all of Tullow’s Ghanaian assets.

The effective date of the transaction is 1 December 2010. The agreement is conditional on the receipt of various consents, approvals and assurances, including from the Government of Ghana.

Upon completion of the agreement, application will be made to the UK Listing Authority and the Irish Stock Exchange for the Shares to be admitted to the official list of the UK Listing Authority and the official list of the Irish Stock Exchange and application will be made to the London Stock Exchange and the Irish Stock Exchange for the Shares to be admitted to trading on their respective main markets.

Aidan Heavey, Tullow’s Chief Executive, commented today:

“This acquisition represents an excellent opportunity to extend our interest in these high-quality assets in Ghana. Following our exploration and production successes over the last few years, which culminated in First Oil in late 2010, this purchase further demonstrates Tullow’s long-term commitment to Ghana and our belief in its significant remaining potential.”

Tullow is a leading independent oil & gas, exploration and production group, quoted on the London and Irish Stock Exchanges (symbol: TLW) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

The Group has interests in over 90 exploration and production licences across 22 countries and focuses on four core areas: Africa, Europe, South Asia and South America.

Close Kaneshie Market Until Removal Of Rubbish Heap - Then Sack The Top Management Immediately Afterwards!

With the frequent rate at which cholera outbreaks occur in urban Ghana, one would have thought that those in charge of markets like the Kanashie market complex, would make ensuring a clean environment their number one priority.

Yet, listening to the company that runs the market's deputy managing director's mealy-mouthed excuses and buck-passing, during an interview with a GBC TV news reporter (telecast yesterday) - who had sought an explanation from him for the unacceptable conditions created as a result of the pile of rubbish near the Kanashie market complex, and demanded to know what exactly was being done about it - it was clear that as far as the deputy managing director was concerned, clearing the rubbish heap was within the purview of the city authorities: and not his company's responsibility. Incredible.

If ever there was a TV news report that could pass for a ready-made audio-visual case-study of one of the worst examples of poor leadership in Corporate Ghana ever, for business management schools across the African continent, that GTV interview would be it.

Clearly, a clean environment to trade in is implicit in the contract between the market women and all the other traders who rent premises and stalls at the Kaneshie market complex, and its owners and operators, the Accra Markets Limited.

The company has a responsibility to ensure that conditions in all its facilities do not endanger public health in any way, at all material times.

And in that regard, it certainly has a statutory duty to ensure that those responsible for collecting rubbish in the markets it runs, strictly meet the terms of their waste management contracts with them, and fulfil them to the letter.

Above all, surely, the Accra Markets Limited, ought to ensure that immediate alternative arrangements are always in place, to ensure a clean environment is maintained in all their markets, in the event their waste-management contractors fail to meet the terms of their contracts: so that the appalling and completely unacceptable health-endangering mountain of rubbish that has been allowed to pile up over a period, and so close to the Kaneshie market complex, never occurs in any of its markets, in the first place, at all?


For the sake of the residents of Accra, the relevant Parliamentary oversight committees for local government and health, must work together to speedily investigate this outrageous example of the dereliction of duty, by the top brass of an entity that is more or less publicly-owned - judging by its shareholding structure.

The company's board of directors must fire the manager in charge of the Kanashie market complex as well as the managing director of Accra Markets Limited, and his deputy - for superintending that monstrosity.

Finally, if any of the readers of this blog, who want Ghana to become a society in which when those in charge of public institutions fail, they are fired immediately, want to call or email the company directly, to complain about the totally unacceptable situation at the Kanashie market complex - as a form of direct-action protest - they can find the company's contact details below.

Kaneshie Market Ltd.
P. O. Box KN 244
Kaneshie

Email: admin@accramarkets.com

Tel.: 03022260, 0302223701
Fax: 0302235200

For those who might find it useful, the information below about the history, mission and vision of the Accra Markets Limited, was copied from the company's website:

" ⁠CORPORATE PROFILE

Services⁠ ⁠

ORGANISATION AND MANAGEMENT ⁠

CORPORATE PROFILE

The Accra Markets Limited was incorporated in 1972 under the Companies Code 1963 (Act 179) as a Private Limited Liability Company operating under Legislative Instrument 1043 of 1975. The Company manages the Kaneshie Market Complex which was commissioned in 1979 and the Kaneshie Car Park.

BACKGROUND HISTORY

In 1972, at the initiative of the Government of Ghana acting through the Ministry of Local Government, charged the National Investment Bank and some financial institutions to finance the construction of a modern planned Market with essential facilities to replace the existing sprawling single-storey buildings.

Ghana Commercial Bank and State Insurance Company Limited and National Savings and Credit Bank were invited to participate in the venture as lenders and also agreed to join as Shareholders with the exception of N.S.C.B. which did not subscribe to the equity.

Accra Metropolitan Assembly being the traditional administrator of Markets in Accra agreed to join the remaining three as a member. The four shareholders namely National Investment Bank, Ghana Commercial Bank, State Insurance Company Ltd. and Accra Metropolitan Assembly agreed to divide the equity among them equally.

MISSION

To establish and manage efficiently modern facilities where the general public can conveniently trade in goods and services. At all times strive to ensure pleasant and safe environs for our clientele, contribute meaningfully to the development of the community in which we operate while seeking the welfare of our employees and adequate returns for our Shareholders.

VISION

To strive to be a pace-setter in the provision of modern Markets, offering quality goods and excellent services thereby attracting large patronage and high reputation beyond the expectation of our clientele and stakeholders.

CORE VALUES

Loyalty, Innovation, Commitment, Hard work, Recognition and Professionalism."

End of quotation from the Accra Markets Limited Website.

Clearly, dear reader, the management of Accra Markets Limited have failed to fulfill all the above, judging by the unacceptable filth in virtually all the markets they run - and the shareholders and the board of directors ought to set up s committee to investigate the affairs of the company and how it allowed such a danger to the public's health to develop at the Kanashie market complex.

Finally, dear reader, the dynamic minister in charge of the sector ministry, the Hon. Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, must take a keen interest in this matter - as there definitely are political ramifications in it, in store for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime, of which he is such a prominent member, at election time: if this outrage is allowed to continue for any further length of time.

For, as sure as day follows night, it will be raised by their political opponents, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) at election time.

Perhaps it will feature in a documentary film about broken NDC promises, and count as an example of yet another failed promise, by a regime that when in opposition vying for power, said it would cleanse Ghana of filth, if given the mandate to manage the nation's affairs in December 2008.

Naturally, this being Ghana, one cannot rule out political sabotage, as a possible reason for the monstrosity at the Kanashie market complex.

Consequently, one certainly hopes that unlike many of his hard-of-hearing ministerial colleagues (who never need good advice until it is way too late), the dynamic and proactive Hon. Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo will listen - and make sure that the mountain of rubbish at Kanashie market is removed: and that in addition, the top management of Accra Markets Limited are all fired immediately!

The outrage they have allowed to occur, and to persist, and which has endangered the health of their tenants, residents of houses in the environs of the market, and the general public who have to work or come to the area to access public transport on a daily basis, is unacceptable - and will never be allowed to occur in any civilised nation: and we are a civilised people too, are we not, I ask? They must be fired immediately!

Tel ( powered by Tigo - the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

AFRICAN UNION DAY: A SOLEMN DAY TO FOCUS ON RESPONSIBLE JOURNALISM?

African journalists could play such an important role in bringing the peoples and nations of the continent closer together - if they had the freedom to do so continent-wide.

Clearly, that task is one that will have to be carried out by the media professionals amongst them, who are: honest; principled; ethical and pro-African oriented in their journalism practice.

Alas, the dishonest ones amongst the continent's journalists, invariably work for corrupt African politicians, to whom they sell their conscience - and for whom they act as guard-dogs and attack-dogs. Literally!

It is in the light of that vital role journalists can play in Africa and benefits that can redound to African democracy as a result, that I could not help feeling sad, when I read an editorial by what is supposed to be one of Ghana's leading privately-owned newspapers, the Statesman, meant to commemorate African Union (AU) day, entitled: "Ghana's sinking image and relevance in African leadership".

Unfortunately, that diatribe-filled editorial, meant to focus the minds of its readers on the continental unity project, on this auspicious day, turned out to be yet another of its many badly-written propaganda pieces - full of the dissimulation and unfair comment it has become so notorious for, amongst discerning and independent-minded Ghanaians: who so desperately long for responsible, fair and balanced newspapers to read, in their country.

I felt sad, because of the smug spoilt-brat antics of this newspaper equivalent, of a child lucky to have been born with a golden spoon in its mouth, and which, despite all the advantages of its privileged background, has unfortunately grown into young adulthood, emerging as a conceited diletante - who, sadly, does not realise that his privileged background, makes it imperative that he constantly gives back to the unequal and unfair society, in which he leads his insouciant existence.

It is time the spoilt brats amongst those who write for the Statesman, understood clearly (as they appear to be so oblivious of the fact!), that whiles they indulge in their narcissism, tens of millions of their fellow citizens have to struggle to survive daily - simply because they were born on the wrong side of the tracks.

Given the background of those investors whose hard work guarantee their salaries, it is time they grew up and gave up the endless propaganda, and turned the Statesman into a balanced and authoritative voice of moderation in Ghanaian society; a force for good in our nation: and made sure that common decency underpins everything that appears in its columns.

On African Union Day, it is unfortunate that the Statesman chose to pen an editorial full of disparaging (and completely undeserved!) remarks belittling the considerable achievements of President Mills, in a Ghana that is still (despite their attempt to make the world believe the contrary!), regarded globally as a beacon of peace, stability and good governance, in the Africa of today.

Such meanness and pettiness, is unworthy of a newspaper owned by hard-working individuals,
who are nation-builders par excellence - and are all diligently contributing their quota, to our homeland Ghana's development (and the rest of Africa's too!), in the financial services sector of our national economy.

Why does the Statesman not take a cue from their positive outlook on life and creativity in business, I ask, dear reader - and set the same example in the Ghanaian media world?

The owners of the Statesman, and Ghana's many discerning and independent-minded citizens, certainly do not deserve such disservice from an entity subsidised by decent and upright individuals - who all want nothing but the best for Mother Ghana.

With respect, this apology of a newspaper, has thus far been unfair to its hard-working and brilliant owners, who have sank substantial sums of their hard-earned cash in the Statesman.

For, in calculating, correctly, that an innovative and fleet-footed privately-owned Ghanaian newspaper, could, if sufficiently well-resourced, occupy a niche - and give the industry leader, the Daily Graphic, a run for its money: and in the process, give them a decent return on their investment - they were clearly hoping that a private-sector media entity would contribute positively to the creation of a serious, hard-working and stable society in Ghana, which also knows how to play hard having wholesome fun.

Those who run the Statesman, have failed miserably to do so for them and for Ghana, on that score.

When it changed hands, the Statesman had all the opportunity in the world to re-make itself, and evolve into a newspaper that many in society could point to, as an example, to other newspapers in our nation - by raising the bar for media practice excellence, in terms of responsible and ethical journalism, for the rest of the industry to aspire to, and aim to reach, eventually.

They must stop being so tone-deaf, and change their tune - for given all the advantages it had at its "rebirth", and still has, the reading public in Ghana and elsewhere in Africa, certainly deserve better than they got from the Statesman, on this auspicious day, which has been set aside to celebrate Africa Union Day. They must change for the better, henceforth! A word to the wise...

Tel (powered by Tigo - the one mobile phone network on Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Tullow to enhance Dutch portfolio through acquisition of Nuon E&P

24 May 2011 - Tullow Oil plc (Tullow) announces that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Nuon Exploration and Production (Nuon E&P) for a cash consideration of €300 million from the Vattenfall Group.

The acquisition of Nuon E&P will significantly enhance Tullow’s North Sea business adding a portfolio of 25 licences that include over 30 producing fields, numerous development and exploration opportunities and ownership of key infrastructure.

This portfolio will increase the Group’s North Sea gas production by 9,000 boepd to approximately 23,000 boepd and add reserves and resources of 28 mmboe.

The Nuon E&P assets are very complementary to the Group’s existing Dutch assets and will provide a stronger platform for growth in an area that the Group considers has significant potential.

The portfolio includes a number of near term development and exploration opportunities with the potential to sustain and grow production in the short term.

The ownership and access to key infrastructure is an excellent strategic fit with Tullow’s existing exploration acreage in the area.

The Nuon E&P transaction has an effective date of 1 January 2011 and is expected to complete by July 2011.

A map of the assets to be acquired can be accessed at: http://www.tullowoil.com/Nuon_acquisition

Paul McDade, Tullow’s Chief Operating Officer, commented today:

“This acquisition is a natural fit with Tullow’s Southern North Sea portfolio and materially enhances our potential for growth in the Dutch sector, an area with significant opportunities and a stable tax regime. Whilst the scale of the acquisition is modest from a Group perspective, it significantly enhances the value generation potential of our North Sea business.”


The consideration of €300 million will be subject to net working capital and post effective date adjustments.

For the year ended 31 December 2010, Nuon E&P reported a profit on continuing activities before taxation of €16.8 million. As at 31 December 2010, Nuon E&P had gross assets of €520 million.

Tullow is a leading independent oil & gas, exploration and production group, quoted on the London and Irish Stock Exchanges (symbol: TLW) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

The Group has interests in over 90 exploration and production licences across 22 countries and focuses on four core areas: Africa, Europe, South Asia and South America.

In Africa, Tullow has production in Ghana, Gabon, Côte d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Congo (Brazzaville) and Equatorial Guinea with two large appraisal and development programmes in Ghana and Uganda.

Tullow also has exploration interests in Gabon, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mauritania, Senegal, Tanzania, Madagascar, Namibia, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Tullow’s European interests are primarily focused on gas in the UK Southern North Sea where it has significant interests in the Caister-Murdoch System and the Thames area.

The company also has interests offshore the Netherlands.

In South Asia, Tullow has exploration and production in Bangladesh and exploration interests in Pakistan.

In South America, Tullow has exploration interests in Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname.

Monday, 23 May 2011

AN OPEN LETTER TO LINKEDIN!

Dear LinkedIn,

I received, for the third time or so (I believe!), notification from a Tara Marinello of LA. And on each occasion, I have ignored it, because I suspect it is a trap - meant to trip me up.

I would be grateful if you could find out if such an individual truly exists in your network. I neither know, nor wish to know, any such individual. Period.

Some members of our corrupt ruling elite in my native Ghana, have consistently sent me bogus entrapment emails and planted many spurious stories on www.ghanaweb.com, in the hope that one would fall for their perfidy, and comment on it by writing one of one's acerbic pieces about the corruption and abuse of power by some of the members of our ruling elites - and fall flat on one's face: as they sued one through the courts, to destroy one's credibility, and shut one up permanently that way, as no one would then take one seriously after that.

It would be a terrible development, if Ghana's wealthy criminals and the few crooks amongst the many decent people who rule Ghana (and are so typical of the powerful and ruthless types who dominate much of life in so many of the nations on the continent of Africa, and whose national economies they ruthlessly exploit for their own benefit, with complete impunity), could misuse the internet, by infiltrating reputable social networks, such as LinkedIn, to deny ordinary citizen-journalists like myself (and they still shouldn't be allowed to get away with it, were one only a mere poor old semi-literate villager to boot, too!), from exercising my constitutional right to freedom of expression, and to contribute to the national fight against corruption in my homeland Ghana (waged by civil society groups and patriotic individuals).

Please work together with the LA Police Department to unravel this mystery.

It is important, if my suspicions are correct, that you expose those powerful people in places like Ghana (and elsewhere in Africa!), who seek to deny law-abiding citizens the right to speak their minds freely (by blogging online), through a conspiracy to use subterfuge to achieve their dubious ends: with the aid of your well-regarded online platform.

I deeply resent the attempt to use subterfuge to entrap me and eventually muzzle me that way.

I am not a criminal - so why should anyone hound me in such outrageous fashion, I ask? Criticising the third-rate individuals amongst those who rule us, and their mercenary and unprincipled allies in the Ghanaian media, does not, and must not, make me a public enemy and a danger to the security of the Ghanaian nation-state.

On the contrary, open criticism of those who rule us, and holding them accountable for their actions, can only strengthen Ghanaian democracy - and make our nation a better place for us all.
Please find the said suspect communication below:

" LinkedIn
REMINDER

This pending invitation is awaiting your response:

•  From Tara Marinello"

Many thanks in advance, for your help.

Best wishes,

Kofi.

Tel(powered by Tigo - the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): +233 (0) 27 745 3109.

LEADERSHIP OF A VERY DIFFERENT HUE FROM THAT IN GHANA!

Reading through a BBC online magazine story about an interview that the British Coalition government's Business Secretary, Vincent Cable, gave to the Guardian newspaper, I was struck by the difference between Mr. Cable's candour, about the tough times the British people are going through, and will have to continue doing so for a period, as a result of challenges the UK economy faces, and the dissimulation engaged in by Ghana's political class (across the spectrum!).

Our politicians have failed spectacularly, to be straightforward, and spell it out clearly to ordinary Ghanaians, that the nation must, of necessity, go through hard times - whiles the process of re-balancing our nation's public finances is carried out.

All of those politicians (across the political spectrum!) know that there is no alternative to the responsible fiscal policies being pursued by the Mills administration, to eliminate that deficit it inherited.

And all of them also know that Ghanaians would still be going through exactly what they are going through today, had the New Patriotic Party (NPP) currently been in power, instead of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime of President Mills.

Yet, to listen to the hypocritical noises coming from the "Enkoyie Brigade," one would think that Ghana would have become a paradise by now, had the NPP, which had literally run the economy aground by the end of its tenure, as a result of its recklessness, irresponsibility and profligacy (and destroyed the very gains that the veritable windfall of debt relief gave our nation as a result of all the above!), been in power as we speak.

Both Ghana's politicians (across the spectrum) and large sections of its media, have also failed to make it clear to Ghanaians that a whole gamut of tough choices have to be made, and very difficult steps taken, to create the conditions that will enable the private sector grow sufficiently over an extended period, to create enough jobs to bring Ghana's unemployment figures down.

Instead of always seeking to paint a rosey picture of our nation's prospects, Ghana's politicians and the media, ought to be honest enough to tell ordinary Ghanains that no matter which political party wins power, the living standards of ordinary Ghanaians will not suddenly and dramatically change for the better overnight.
As Nana Akufo-Addo has been bold and responsible enough to point out, it will take a minimum of a decade to transform the national economy.

Yet, Ghana's mostly unprofessional media, have, for partisan reasons, deliberately failed to make that fact known to ordinary people, and to make them aware of the reality of our actual economic circumstances and the predicament we face as a people and nation.

In stark contrast to the opaque and Byzantine situation in Ghana, even the Governor of the Bank of England, has told Britons clearly, that their living standards are falling dramatically - and will fall even further, as inflation eats away at the value of their wages and savings. Ditto several members of the Coalition government, including Prime Minister David Cameron himself.

The British media is full of such stories - yet, here in Ghana, media houses (such as that headteacher of Ghanaian media dissimulation, the Statesman newspaper!), are deliberately using statistical figures, for example, which they are sufficiently intelligent enough to know, result from the necessary and vital fight, to reduce the deficit (created by the profligate and greed-filled stooges for neo-colonialism, whose interests they serve), to deliberately give the false impression to ordinary people, that the NDC government that is achieving the impossible, given the economic shambles it inherited, is failing Ghanaians: when the plain truth is that, in fact, it is laying a solid foundation for a prosperous tomorrow (in the selfsame 10-year time-frame that the honest Nana Akufo-Addo, is decent enough, to admit, is required to transform our national economy). Incredible.

Yet, it is extremely important that ordinary Ghanaians understand clearly, exactly what our national circumstances are, without any ambiguities whatsoever: for the sake of the stability of our nation.

The Ghanaian public needs to understand that ordinary people will have to continue facing hard times, until there has been sufficient and sustained growth, over an extended period, to enable the private sector to generate enough wealth, to help create hundreds of thousands of proper and well-paid jobs, in Ghana.

The story about the British Coalition government's Business Secreatary, Vince Cable's Guardian interview, was culled from the BBC (21 May 2011). Please read on:

"Hard to explain how bad economic crisis is, says Cable

21 May 11 02:02


Business Secretary Vince Cable says it has been a challenge for the government to explain to the public how bad a state the economy is in.

He told the Guardian the country was poorer because of the banking collapse and recession - and from a "squeeze" from the changing world economy.

Britain is no longer one of the "price-setters" in world markets, he said.

"We have had a very, very profound crisis which is going to take a long time to dig out of," he warned.

Speaking about the state of the economy, Mr Cable said: "It is a challenge to us to communicate it better. I don't think it is understood that the British economy declined 6 or 7%...

"We are actually a poorer country, mainly because of the banking crash, the recession that followed it and partly due to the squeeze we are now under from the changing balance of the world economy."

He added: "Britain is no longer one of the world's price setters. We take our prices from international commodity markets driven by China and India.

"That is something we have got to live with and adjust to. It is painful. It is a challenge to us in government to explain it. The political class as a whole is not preparing the public for how massive the problem is."

'Model that failed'

"Ultimately it comes back to this defensiveness and an unwillingness to accept that Britain was operating a model that failed... it makes it more difficult for us to get through to the public about the scale of the problem. That is to everyone's loss."

He said Britain's deficit was "only one of the symptoms" of the financial crisis.

"We had the complete collapse of a model based on consumer spending, a housing bubble, an overweight banking system - three banks, each of them with a balance sheet larger than the British economy.

"It was a disaster waiting to happen and it did happen. It has done profound damage and it is damage that is going to last a long time."

Culled from the BBC (21 May 2011)

So there we are dear reader. If only our politicians and our mostly-mercenary media, were just as honest, principled, patriotic and nationalistic.

If they were, surely, our homeland Ghana, would be a place under the African sun, which though tough to survive in, one could at least bear to exist in, because it had serious, capable and honest leaders?

Ditto journalists of integrity to help the nation's leaders explain succinctly to the citizenry, why they had to go through tough times? Pity.

Our educated urban elite had better wake up, or one day they will wake up from their slumber themselves, to discover that ordinary people had risen up to seize control of the destiny of their homeland, from the hands of the greedy and corrupt incompetents into whose grasping hands it had fallen.

And they will then finally bring to end, the domination of Ghanaian society, by a largely unprincipled ruling class, who had deceived them, with their endless divide and rule Kokofu-football-politricks for decades, so as to steal in broad daylight, their birthright from them, with impunity - using platitudinous phrases like "the rule law" and wrapping the concept of democracy around themselves, as a cloak of convenience, to hide their perfidy.

The question is will they change before it becomes too late for them: just as time run out for those corrupt Arab leaders, swept away by the force of the anger of their oppressed people: because their greed, cruelty and dishonesty, put them on the wrong side of history? One hopes they will. A word to the wise...

Tel(powered by Tigo - the one mobile phone network in Ghana, which actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Courts and the Media: What Reforms are Needed and Why

Yesterday, as my humble contribution to the debate about the role of the judiciary in Ghanaian democracy, I shared an address delivered by the Hon. Murray Gleeson AC, Chief Justice of New South Wales, at the Judicial Conference of Australia's annual symposium, on 8th November 1997, in Sydney, Australia.

Today, for the same purpose, I am also sharing a paper delivered at the same symposium, entitled "The Courts and the Media:

What Reforms are Needed and Why" by the Honourable Daryl Williams AM QC MP, the Attorney-General for the Commonwealth of Australia, at the time it was delivered by him at the symposium.

Apart from breaking up some of the paragraphs to make it easier to read on the blog, no editing whatsoever has been done. Please read on:

"Introduction

Relationship Between the Media and the Courts

Information about the Courts

The Judicial Process

Judicial Conference

Commonwealth Study on Judicial Independence

AIJA Study on Courts and the Public

Media Coverage of Judicial Decisions

Factual Inaccuracies

Personal Attacks

The Nature of Decision Making

Roles of the Judiciary, Executive and Legislature

Conclusion

Introduction

This forum would not have taken place 20 years ago. It is evidence of remarkable changes that have taken place in attitudes in recent times.

All our institutions have been opened up to critical scrutiny. The community demands accountability of those in public office.

There have been similar panels held, not only in Australia, notably at the recent conference of the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration, but also overseas.

We are seeing in Australia not an isolated phenomenon, but a world-wide increase in demand for information about, and accountability of, democratic institutions.

The judiciary is one of those institutions being carefully scrutinized by its public. As the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, the Honourable Murray Gleeson AC, said recently: "We live in an age of accountability.

What is required of judges is changing. That is a good thing, but it does not make life easier for judges."

I propose first to focus on the relationship between the courts and the media. Secondly, I will distinguish the different types of information that the media conveys about the courts, such as:

information about the judicial process generally; and information (and criticism) about specific judicial decisions.

My argument will be that the courts and the media must adopt different approaches, depending on the information they are conveying to the public.

Relationship Between the Media and the Courts

It is a fact of life that the courts and the media do have a relationship. A similar panel discussion in the United States was entitled "Shall We Dance?"

One of the participating judges observed that it was too late to ask such a question.

Justice Femia remarked that: "These are the 1990s, and we're dancing whether we like it or not."

It is no secret that the relationship is an uneasy one. I suggest that this is because the roles of the judiciary and the media are very different.

Not only are these roles different, I do not think each understands the other's job. Ultimately, they should both be acting in the public interest, serving the community.

Their responsibilities are owed to the community, not to each other. Further, the obligations the courts and the media owe to the public are quite different.

The role of the courts is to uphold the law fairly and independently. Judges maintain the rule of law, uphold the Constitution, and administer civil and criminal justice according to the law.

The judiciary is granted unique conditions of service to achieve this aim. It is guaranteed tenure and salary.

It is not dependent on any group or body in society, least of all the executive which appoints it.

It stands between the citizen and the state and maintain the lawful balance of power between the executive, the legislature and the citizen.

The term "judicial independence" is used frequently, and sometimes inappropriately, when describing the role of judges. It is helpful to remember the explanation of judicial independence proffered by the former Chief Justice of the High Court, the Honourable Sir Anthony Mason AC KBE. He said that:

...judicial independence is not a privilege enjoyed by judges, although judges sometimes mistakenly encourage that notion by invoking the privilege as if it were their own.

Judicial independence is a privilege of, and a protection for, the people. It is a fundamental element in our democracy, all the more so now that the citizen's rights against the state are of greater value than his or her rights against other citizens.

However, as I have stated elsewhere, the principle of judicial independence is consistent with the requirement of judicial accountability. Both are aspects of the duties owed by the judiciary to the community.

There are significant restraints on the judiciary. It does not set the judicial agenda. It does not choose which cases or subjects will come before it for decision.

Even in the limited circumstances of the High Court's decisions on granting special leave to appeal, the subject matter before the court is controlled by litigants.

The information on which decisions are based is dictated by the requirements of the adversarial system and the rules of evidence governing proceedings.

The media, on the other hand, has a very different job. It has obligations of accuracy, fairness and objectivity.

It must also entertain and produce profits for its owners. It has a responsibility to understand the legal processes only to the extent necessary to fulfil these obligations.

There are also significant restraints on the media in its ability to grasp the complexity of court proceedings. The media works within extremely tight time frames.

Not all papers can have full time court reporters. While we are well served by some specialist reporters, many reporters are not legally trained and legal reporting is only one aspect of their portfolio.

There may not be continuity in the allocation of court reporting within a newspaper and young reporters, with insufficient knowledge of the legal system, may be appointed. The articles, even on lengthy, complex cases, must be absurdly brief.

They must mould a decision into a newsworthy item. It is not hard to see how accuracy and completeness may be casualties.

The media is interested in newsworthiness. It will rarely publish the success stories. It usually reports when the judicial process is either not functioning well or when it appears to clash with other branches of government--notably the legislature.

What should the courts do for the media? The courts should help the media understand their processes. This is not because they owe the media anything.

On the contrary, the judges, by the oaths they take on assuming judicial office, must perform their duties without fear or favour to any person or group.

The courts should provide information because they are the most competent body to do so and because the public is entitled to the most accurate information possible.

What should the media do for the courts? The media should simply fulfil its duties to the public of fair and accurate reporting. It is not qualified to be a spokesperson for the judiciary, and nor should it be.

The courts themselves have to maintain and enhance public confidence in the judiciary by the quality of their work.

The accountability of the courts and the media differs enormously. The courts are accountable to the community by the requirement that their duties be performed in public and are publicly reported, and by the appeal process.

In the case of courts which have separate financial administrations, such as the High Court, the Federal Court and the Family Court, they are responsible for, and must account publicly in annual reports for, the proper expenditure of significant amounts of public moneys.

As for the media, why should it be held accountable? I quote the rationale provided in the report of the Ethics Review Committee, Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) Australian Journalists' Association Section:

In a democratic society no power is legitimate unless it is accountable. Journalists have a special obligation to be accountable, because it is they who claim to be one of the main methods for holding to account, on behalf of the public, others who wield power.

If the public becomes convinced that journalism will not accept accountability, and is hypocritical as well, then gradually the media will be perceived as illegitimate, as lacking in credibility, as being unworthy of trust.

When people don't trust you, they can't rely on you. Journalists cannot fulfil their responsibilities to the Australian community unless it relies on them.

Without that reliance, democracy suffers, and eventually freedom wanes.

We are not saying that doom is nigh. We are saying the stakes are high.

How is the media held accountable? Short of the sanctions of defamation and contempt laws, accountability is governed by and large by self regulation.

In his foreword to that report, Father Frank Brennan SJ AO, Chair of the MEAA Ethics Review Committee, highlighted some of the accountability problems. They were:

journalism is a self regulating profession in which most practitioners are not self employed;

the stock in trade is free speech practised in a world of revolutionary technological change; and

half the journalists are not members of the union that formulates the code of ethics.

The report makes recommendations to improve accountability, such as the inclusion of non-journalist members on the committees which hear complaints, an escalating scale of penalties for breaches of the (recommended revised) code of ethics and publication of decisions on such breaches.

The report also notes that there are many media self regulation systems other than that used by the MEAA, such as the Press Council, in-house systems and the commercial broadcasters' codes of practice.

While the report did not review the effectiveness of these other systems, it said that:

...we have highlighted the importance of a combined effort by MEAA members and employers to improve media accountability. Several practical initiatives will work effectively only if they co-operate.

We see no reason in principle why the commercial, national and community broadcasters could not also establish better liaison among themselves and with publishers and the MEAA.

Consistency of standards, decisions and shared expertise would improve media accountability, in particular in an industry characterized by a highly mobile workforce.

This is not the occasion for elaboration, but the adequacy of media accountability mechanisms is open to question.

Information about the Courts

The Judicial Process

It is appropriate to distinguish two different types of information the media conveys about the courts. Firstly, there is information about the judicial process.

This is general, educative material about the judiciary. Secondly, there is reporting of particular decisions. Different considerations apply to these different categories.

My argument is that the courts and the media should take different approaches to these different situations.

We would all agree that the judicial process will not headline the evening news. It does not have the immediacy required for short term news stories.

It is also a very complicated story. It involves explaining the separation of powers, the interlocking relationship between the legislature, the executive and the judicial arms of government.

It includes the constitutional basis for judicial powers, including issues of tenure and terms of appointment.

There is the added complication that we have separate Commonwealth, State and Territory courts and tribunals. This is hardly the stuff of the 30 second grab.

Nevertheless, the community has a right to this information. Who is best placed to deliver it? I would say the courts themselves. It is not the role of the media.

The courts are already pro-actively performing this precise community education role. Judges have for many years considered it appropriate to address conferences and other educational forums. The courts have their own annual reports and home pages on the internet.

Many have appointed media liaison officers and have conducted user forums. Some judicial officers have agreed to interviews with the media.

Professor Parker has summarised these initiatives in his report, "Courts and the Public" Dr Wood, in the publication "Judicial Ethics", stated that:

Judicial officers are valuable contributors to public education and debate on legal matters. Although some hold that judicial officers should generally remain silent, others believe that they should be encouraged to speak and write informatively about matters concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice. Groups addressed might include meetings of community service clubs, press club luncheons, and university students.

This may be seen more as an extension of the judicial role--or even an integral part of it--rather than a departure from it.

As Professor Parker acknowledges in his report, the courts have initiated many of these developments themselves, with enthusiasm. Many courts and tribunals have produced helpful materials for the public to explain their jurisdictions.

This is an ongoing process. For example, I understand that the "Guidelines for the Media" published by the Western Australian Courts in 1996 is being revised.

I understand that the South Australian Supreme Court is also producing a media handbook. Such reforms are a matter for the courts themselves.

However, if the courts develop a good working relationship with the media, this information can be provided to the public even more effectively.

The topic for this particular session invites the question-- who or what should be reformed? It would be inappropriate for politicians, academics or the media itself to try and impose reforms on the courts concerning their relationship with the media.

It is important to remember that the independence of courts is a crucial feature of their credibility and the vitality of the democratic process generally.

Having said that, the presence of so many senior members of the judiciary at this forum reinforces my earlier observation that the judiciary is not only aware of its duties to the public in providing information, but embraces them enthusiastically.

The reforms I have referred to above have been initiated on a court by court basis, and there is a place for them in specialist jurisdictions.

However, I have many times expressed the view that the Australian judiciary, and the community, would benefit enormously by hearing a representative voice for all the judiciary.

Judicial Conference

I would like to see the Judicial Conference of Australia emerge as this representative voice for the judiciary on broader questions that arise in relation to the judiciary as an institution.

The Conference could relieve the strain of the responsibility increasingly placed on individual courts or members of the judiciary to present more general judicial views to the public and to the media.

Such a representative body could also be a focus of support from, and liaison with, other key players such as the legal profession.

One of my initiatives in the previous Government was the grant of $60,000 to the Judicial Conference to establish a secretariat so that it will be able to perform these functions.

Another initiative was a grant to the Judicial Conference of a further $40,000 to conduct a research project on "Judicial Independence in Australia Today".

This is a practical research project on the concept of judicial independence and its meaning to the community in a modern democratic society.

The project will provide materials for use by members of the Judicial Conference on judicial independence and the rights and responsibilities it entails for the judiciary.

It will also produce briefing materials for the community, parliamentarians and the media to explain judicial independence.

Commonwealth Study on Judicial Independence

Another practical initiative I have taken has been to initiate a Commonwealth Law Ministers' project on Judicial Independence.

My Department drafted a comprehensive survey on behalf of the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat. Twenty-eight Commonwealth member countries responded.

All Australian courts also provided data which has been included in the results.

The result is a comprehensive database on the judiciary which is located on the internet. The project will benefit not only developing countries and their judiciaries, but add to the easily accessible data on Australian courts.

AIJA Study on Courts and the Public

Many of you will be aware of the important, recent publication of the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration (AIJA) entitled "The Courts and the Public" written by Professor Stephen Parker, to which I referred to earlier in this paper. It was launched at the AIJA conference in Melbourne in September 1998.

I am pleased to say that the report was made possible by a grant of $50,000 by my Department. It represents a significant addition to Australian research on its courts. In particular, the study is about how we can improve relationships between Australian courts and their public.

Media Coverage of Judicial Decisions

I have discussed appropriate ways the courts themselves can contribute directly to the community's education about judicial process. The more problematic area is media reporting of particular decisions and court proceedings.

Undoubtedly, this is where tensions emerge between the courts and the media.

I want to highlight three different situations and suggest appropriate responses. These are:

firstly, where factual inaccuracies occur in press reports, either about the facts of a case or about a courts's processes;

secondly, where a criticism of a judicial decision becomes a personal attack on a judge or a number of judges; and

thirdly, where the criticism becomes an attack on a court, such as the accusation that a court is making policy, not law.

(There are, of course, other situations where the nature of appropriate responses may differ.)

Factual Inaccuracies

Firstly, where criticism is based on a misunderstanding of the law or on inaccurate reporting of a case, it is entirely appropriate, in my view, for a court to correct public misunderstanding by dealing with the media directly, either through its Chief Justice, media liaison officer or chief executive officer.

Such occasions can be a valuable opportunity to raise community awareness about legal issues and the functioning of the court system.

For example, judges could use the occasion to explain the rationale for judicial reticence in commenting on judicial decisions generally.

The public interest in judges generally refraining from commenting on decisions will not be supported by the public if it does not understand the rationale behind it.

Criticism of a court's administrative processes, at least under the federal system of judicial self administration, seems to be a clear example of a situation in which the courts can and should respond in their own defence.

However, the courts must remember that they do not have the final say. Correct information supplied to the media may not necessarily be printed.

Courts need to take care in seeking to prolong an issue and must be conscious they do not control the forum.

Personal Attacks

Secondly, and most seriously, what should courts do when the media attacks judges on a personal level? Unfortunately, this has become more prevalent, not just in Australia, but in many countries.

Personal attacks against individual judges are likely to undermine public confidence in the judiciary and thereby damage the legitimacy necessary to its effective functioning as the third arm of government.

The former Chief Justice of the High Court, the Honourable Sir Gerard Brennan AC KBE has said that the judiciary has public confidence as its necessary, but sufficient, power base.

In this situation, it is appropriate for not only a court itself, but also the Judicial Conference and the leaders of the legal profession, to respond to such criticisms.

In some situations it may be appropriate for the Attorney-General to respond, such as where the report is of an attack on the judiciary conducted under parliamentary privilege, a venue which the judiciary has no other means of addressing.

We must bear in mind that there is a great deal at stake for our community if public confidence in the judiciary is unnecessarily eroded by sensational, personalized attacks.

Our remarkably stable democracy can be attributed in no small part to the community's acceptance of the legitimacy of our courts to maintain the balance between the executive, the legislature and the community.

The Nature of Decision Making

The third situation I wish to address is where courts are criticized because they are perceived by the media, or by others who are reported in the media, as making, not applying, the law. This has applied particularly to the High Court.

Mabo, Wik and the so-called implied rights decisions of the High Court are examples of cases that have attracted significant public criticism.

I do not believe this is solely because of disagreement with the substance of the decisions themselves.

Rather, criticism has been directed at a perceived intrusion of the court into areas of law making rather than adjudication.

I do not subscribe to the view that judicial decision making is a task free of interpretive activity.

The common law is not a static entity but is clearly a dynamic living thing that develops as new problems are put before it, and as new standards develop in our legal and social worlds.

Many judges have explained this and I think it is appropriate for them to do so. However I do not believe it is universally understood.

This is also an appropriate task for the Judicial Conference and the leaders of the legal profession. The media also has a responsibility to convey this reality to the community.

This role of the High Court has been emphasized since the reforms in the 1980s, when the appeal processes were changed.

Now, generally, civil appeals can only go to the High Court by special leave, not as of right. The Chief Justice of the High Court has explained one consequence of this reform as follows:

...the result has been that most civil appeals before the court are cases in which at least one party intends to argue that established common law principles should be modified or changed, or that existing precedents should not be followed.

A court whose business consists largely of dealing with cases of that character is more likely to take on the appearance of being radical, not necessarily by reason of the disposition of the members of the court, but by reason of the nature of its business.

The more significant a judicial decision, the more important it is that the community, including the media, understands that decision. The media has a role to play in reporting not just the decision, but the reasoning behind it.

Even allowing for the significant restraints on the media I have referred to above, this is not a role it is performing well.

For example, Dr Robert Austin (now Justice Austin of the Supreme Court of New South Wales) observed that the press summarised 217 pages of legal reasoning in the Wik decision "by and large, in a sentence".

He also said that: "Readers could not possibly have gained an impression that the judgments of the justices were supported by extensive and careful legal reasoning."

As I have already indicated, the media is unlikely to summarize complex decisions accurately. Therefore, the courts have a responsibility to make their decisions as understandable as possible.

Several suggestions have been made. For example, I agree with the views of Chief Justice Gleeson that the style of judgments and the necessity for reserved written judgments should be reconsidered.

Secondly, I agree with calls that have been made for the provision by the courts, where considered necessary, of summaries of judgments.

Thirdly, I have expressed the view previously, and will do so again, that the members of courts, particularly the High Court, should consider, wherever possible, publishing joint reasons for decision.

It is difficult enough for learned constitutional lawyers to analyze seven separate decisions in an important case, let alone a journalist on a tight deadline, or a member of the community.

Roles of the Judiciary, Executive and Legislature

I have attempted to defend decisions of the High Court, which have been mistakenly branded as judicial legislation, as legitimate exercises of judicial power.

As I have stated above, it is appropriate also for a court to defend its decisions if they have been erroneously reported, trivialised by personal references or if the media has misrepresented the nature of the judicial role.

However, we must be clear about the parameters of the judicial role. It is another matter entirely for a judge to use the media to convey views on policy which is rightly the domain of the legislature and the executive.

In the public's eye, there is no such thing as a judge's personal view on a matter of policy.

Judges should always refrain from expressing such views publicly. Just as politicians should refrain from personal attacks on our judges, which undermine public confidence in the judiciary, so should judges respect the territory of the executive and the legislature.

It is readily apparent that such mutual restraint is necessary for the healthy balance between the three branches of government.

Ultimately, all three are serving the public interest. That public interest demands a mutual appreciation of the limits of each other's roles.

Conclusion

The relationship between the media and courts is an uneasy one. This is partly because of misunderstandings about each other's roles.

Also, it is partly because both the courts and the media should be serving the public interest, but they do this in different ways. Their responsibilities are owed to the community, not to each other.

Courts are attuned to the need for changes. They should assume, and have assumed, responsibility for explaining their processes and role. Reforms are taking place in the courts' attitudes to the media. These reforms are consistent with courts maintaining their necessary independence.

There is also room for improvement within the media. It could refrain from personalizing criticism of judgments, explain reasoning behind judgments and resist the temptation to simplify and sensationalize its court reporting. It could improve its methods of implementing accountability.

It is appropriate for courts to respond to inaccurate factual reporting, personalizing of criticism and misreporting of their function.

Different situations call for different approaches and the media retains ultimate control over the messages the judiciary seeks to convey through the media.

The judiciary should also be aware of the appropriate parameters within which it should use the media.

Politicians and the media should not attack the judiciary on a personal level and judges should avoid venturing into the domains of the executive and legislature.

An expanding dialogue with the media through such forums as this is very constructive. This forum is not about finger pointing.

Rather, I see it as a mutual commitment to providing the public with a better quality of information about its institutions.

We will be on the right path if we bear in mind that both the third branch and the fourth estate are required to serve the public interest."

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Role Of The Judiciary In A Modern Democracy

In a nation full of third-rate individuals in high places, one must often look elsewhere, such as the established democracies of the West, for examples of best practice, in many fields of knowledge and areas of human endeavour.

I have heard the opinions of many important high profile lawyers, who have commented on the extraordinary decision by members of the Ghanaian judiciary, to boycott four lawyers, who repeated a widely held view in Ghana, that there is corruption in the judiciary.

However, to depend solely on the views of high-flying Ghanaian lawyers, on this matter, too, can be problematic. For, alas, I do personally know a number of high-profile lawyers, despite whose reputation as legal luminaries and high-fliers, showed an astonishing lack of personal integrity, when I interacted with them, on a lawyer-client basis.

And, like most of their fellow Ghanaians, they were driven by greed for money to an extent that I found most disconcerting. Unfortunately, it did not make for a wholesome and straightforward interaction with them, in the slightest.

Despite their much-vaunted reputations, sadly, professionalism and adherence to a personal ethical code, seemed missing from most of their actions.

Indeed, there are a number of lawyers in Ghana, who literally steal their clients' money, scheme to deprive clients of their properties,  and readily accept payments, but curiously avoid actually litigating in proactive fashion, for clients making those selfsame payments, for just that very purpose - and when found out, show neither a sense of guilt nor are filled with remorse for their perfidy: but seek instead, to use technicalities and loopholes in the law, to escape just punishment.

So, although there are thousands of decent and upright judges and lawyers in Ghana, alas, we must look to what lawyers and judges elsewhere in the established democracies of the West, say, about the role of judges in a modern democracy - for a view that is neither self-serving nor biased.

Personally, I think that as a society, if we want to root out corruption in the judiciary, then instead of heaping overly-generous perks and endless benefits - such as the obscene ex-gratia payments engineered for themselves when they retire - on members of our largely non-performing legislative and executive branches of government, we must rather use such taxpayer-funds, to pay members of the judiciary in Ghana well, and provide them with all the facilities and logistics they need to do their work properly.

Above all, when they retire, we must ensure that they can continue to enjoy the same standard of living, as their serving colleagues on active duty, till they finally pass away.

Salary levels in the judiciary, must be amongst the highest, if not the highest, in Ghana. That is the price Ghanaian society must pay to have a judiciary that is fair, impartial, non-partisan, non-tribalistic and free of the miasma of corruption.

As my humble contribution, to the debate on the role of the judiciary in a modern democracy, I am publishing the opening address, delivered by the Hon. Murray Gleeson AC, Chief Justice of New South Wales, at the Judicial Conference of Australia's annual symposium, on 8th November 1997, in Sydney, Australia.

For ease of reading, I have broken up the rather lengthy (for a blog, i.e.) paragraphs. Other than that, no actual editing has taken place. Please read on:

"The Judicial Conference of Australia is to be congratulated upon arranging this symposium, in which a number of important issues concerning the role of the judiciary in a modern democracy will be discussed.

It is not my purpose to intrude into the subjects which will be dealt with in the various papers and panel sessions. My purpose is simply to identify some considerations which seem to me to form part of the context in which these subjects arise.

Debate about the role of the modern judiciary is often focused upon issues which have little practical relationship to the day to day work of the great majority of judges. Those members of the judiciary who sit on the High Court, or intermediate Courts of Appeal, are usually of greater interest to commentators than trial judges.

However, they represent a very small, although important, part of the judiciary. The essential role of judges today is as it has always been, that is to say, the administration of civil and criminal justice, impartially, according to law.

The great bulk of civil and criminal justice is administered at the trial, not the appellate level, and it is at the trial level that the community and the judiciary have their most important contacts. Discussion of the role of the judiciary which concentrates on appellate courts tends to ignore this reality.

Most judges spend little, if any, of their time dealing with exciting questions such as the proper relationship between parliament and the judiciary, the virtues of incremental as opposed to radical change in legal principle, or the proper role of international conventions in the interpretation of local statutes.

Most working judges look on with bemused resignation as competing groups berate the judiciary as a class either for their imperialist adventurism, or for their shellbacked conservatism. The truth is that most judges have a job to do which gives little opportunity for indulging in predelictions of that kind.The role of judges in any particular community is manifested in what they do and how they do it.

The nature of the work which courts are given to do is what primarily determines their place in the scheme of things. It is interesting to reflect on how much of the High Court's modern reputation, in some quarters, for radicalism, can be explained by reference to the fact that there has occurred, in relatively recent times, an important change in the character of the business that goes to the court.

It always has been the case that a large part of the day to day work of the High Court has consisted of hearing civil appeals, in the exercise of the court's role as an ultimate court of appeal.For most of this century, provided a case involved money or property of a relatively modest amount or value, civil litigants could appeal to the High Court as of right. Most civil appeals to the High Court were brought as of right.

Any judge would know that most cases of that character can be decided by the application of well established principles of law. A court whose workload consists in large part of such cases, (and this still applies to intermediate courts of appeal), is likely to appear conservative. Most of its decisions will be based on the application of precedent and settled principle. Only in a minority of cases will the court be called upon to develop or alter the common law.

However, since statutory changes in the early 1980's produced the result that civil appeals could only go to the High Court by special leave, then the result has been that most civil appeals before the court are cases in which at least one party intends to argue that established common law principles should be modified or changed, or that existing precedents should not be followed.

A court whose business consists largely of dealing with cases of that character is more likely to take on the appearance of being radical, not necessarily by reason of the disposition of the members of the court, but by reason of the nature of its business.I do not suggest that this is the only factor at work in relation to judicial law-making at the appellate level, but it forms an important, and frequently overlooked, practical aspect of the context in which that issue arises.

Another matter worth considering might be the changing attitude of the legal profession, and others, towards the use of litigation as a technique for achieving political and social objectives.

We have long been accustomed to the use of litigation as a weapon in corporate and commercial rivalry, but we are seeing an upsurge in what might be described as the politically and socially aggressive use of litigation.

This has also resulted in a change in the character of the work coming before some courts, and has a significant effect on the way in which courts appear to the public to behave.Of course, these are areas in which matters of cause and effect can be difficult to disentangle.

The nature of the work assigned to trial courts can vary from time to time and place to place. It is only necessary to think of the subject of judicial review of administrative action to understand how the nature of what courts are required to do affects their relations with other institutions of government and with the community.

Who writes the job description of a judge in any given community? Mainly history, I suppose. It alters over time. The job description of an Australian judge has altered significantly, in various ways, during my time in the law and, for that matter, during my time in the court.

Democracy itself can hardly be said to contain an inherent definition of the role of the judiciary. The role of judges in such modern democracies as France, Germany or Italy is substantially different from the role of judges in England, or the United States or Australia. The French Revolution assigned to judges in France a function very different from the function assigned to the English judges by what is sometimes called the Glorious Revolution.

The role of the judiciary in the community is manifested not only in what judges do but also in how they do it. This might be called judicial style.There seems to be a major difference between the style of judges in common law jurisdictions, and the style of judges in civil law traditions.

I have in mind, particularly, the techniques by which judicial decisions are made, and the manner in which they are expressed.Justice Beaumont of the Federal Court showed me an interesting article, published in April 1995, in the Yale Law Journal (Volume 104, No. 6, p1325) by a French lawyer entitled, "Judicial Portraits".

The purpose of the article was to explain to readers with a common law background what the author described as the official French portrait of the civil judge, and then to contrast that with what was called the unofficial French portrait of the civil judge.

The first point made by the author, and one which perhaps contains the seeds of an argument that may be of some local relevance, is that, in France, the principle of separation of powers is regarded as having as its most significant implication the proposition that judges must not make, or appear to make, law. It is the separation of legislative and judicial powers which is emphasised.

Historically, this is related to the pre-Revolutionary activities of the French parlements, which were gatherings of judges exercising legislative functions that were widely resented.This principle is reflected in the form taken by decisions of French courts. To the eyes of someone from a common law jurisdiction, they are remarkably brief.

The court speaks with one voice, there being no provision for concurrence or dissent. Above all, the decision is structured so as to give the appearance that the outcome was inevitable. The author says (on pp 1341-1342):"The French judicial decision, in its paradigmatic form, possesses a univocal quality that denies the possibility of alternative perspectives, approaches, or outcomes.

This univocal quality is further promoted by the collegial style in which the decisions are rendered. The French judicial decision is rendered by the entire court as a unit; individual judges do not sign opinions. Dissenting and concurring opinions are forbidden.

The grammatical and structural form of the judicial decision portrays the depersonalized judge as merely plugging applicable legislative provisions and the bare minimum of relevant facts into the formal mold, mechanically producing the judgment.

The mechanics of the French judicial decision is that of the "judicial syllogism": "In France, the decision is as short as possible, as irrefutable as possible. Our ideal is the decision ten to fifteen lines long constituting, if possible, a syllogism with a major [premise], a minor [premise], and an unstoppable conclusion."

The given legislative provision constitutes the major premise, the facts constitute the minor premise, and "the declaration of what the statutory law commands regarding the controversy" forms the conclusion.

According to the structure of the civil judicial decision, it is exclusively the statutory law that dictates the outcome of legal controversies."

The author goes on to describe the procedures, private to the judges, by which, in dialogue which is remarkably similar to common law practice, but which is never published, they reason about legal problems. Their public style is expressed in their decisions. That, in turn, says a great deal about what is regarded as the role of the judiciary in that modern democracy.

This may be contrasted with the style of decision making and judgment writing at all levels of the Australian judiciary. We go in for what the French would regard as amazingly detailed examination and analysis of the facts, and, often, lengthy and discursive reasoning about the law.

Some judges appear to delight in exposing the doubts and uncertainties which have attended their decision making, and in magnifying the range of choices they see as available to them.

Trial judges seem to be encouraged by appellate courts to spell out their reasoning in ever increasing detail. This would be anathema to a French judge. It seems to say a good deal about what our community expects, or at least is assumed to expect, of judges.

Perhaps the validity of that assumption might one day make a worthy subject of study. To what extent is our role selfcreated, and to what extent is it a response to the community's needs or expectations?

To what extent have we ourselves created those expectations? Should we, in some respects, take the initiative in redefining our role, or in altering the community's expectations?

There are certain features of modern democratic life, some of which will be explored at this symposium, to which the judiciary needs to accommodate itself. Such accommodation, however, is not always easy.

The modern insistence upon satisfactory accountability of all governmental institutions, which needs to be reconciled with principles of independence, has to be accepted and addressed.

A great deal of public money is invested in courts, and the community is entitled to demand that they be administered efficiently and effectively. The public are entitled to expect that individual judges will do their work efficiently, as well as fairly, will manage cases with due regard to considerations of economy, and will deliver judgments reasonably promptly.

If judges themselves do not take the lead in developing appropriate techniques of accountability in relation to questions such as this, others will, and those others might not share our understanding of, or respect for, principles of independence.

Professional training and education of judges is a subject receiving increasing attention. In recent years there has been a development in formal arrangements in New South Wales for continuing legal education of judges and magistrates, and also for training and orientation programmes for new appointees. Once again, it is essential that the judiciary should take charge of these programmes.

The modern judiciary has to come to terms with the role played by the media in the relationship between judges and the general public. This is an important subject which I understand will receive particular attention tomorrow.

I am delighted that the Supreme Court of New South Wales has been able to provide the venue for this important occasion. I am sure the symposium will make a major contribution to the debate within the judiciary, and amongst members of the public, about many important issues."

Friday, 20 May 2011

Safe nuclear does exist, and China is leading the way with thorium

Like many environmental activists, I have always been against nuclear power - largely because of the dangers radiation from nuclear waste poses to the health of all living creatures.

I am an enthusiast for renewable energy - and believe that Ghana should build the world's biggest wind-energy wind farm in a series of clusters along our entire coastline to produce 20,000 megawatts of power, in a joint-venture with the best-resourced state-owned Chinese giant-sized wind power-plant manufacturers.

As my small contribution to the debate about nuclear power in Ghana, I am posting an interesting article culled from the UK newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, about thorium. It was written by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard⁠ of the Telegraph.

Perhaps Ghana's Atomic Energy Commission ought to talk to their Chinese counterparts and collaborate with them - and choose to follow China along the relative safety of the thorium path: instead of the dangerous nuclear power path they seem so perversely determined to follow. Please read on:


"A few weeks before the tsunami struck Fukushima’s uranium reactors and shattered public faith in nuclear power, China revealed that it was launching a rival technology to build a safer, cleaner, and ultimately cheaper network of reactors based on thorium.

This passed unnoticed –except by a small of band of thorium enthusiasts – but it may mark the passage of strategic leadership in energy policy from an inert and status-quo West to a rising technological power willing to break the mould.

If China’s dash for thorium power succeeds, it will vastly alter the global energy landscape and may avert a calamitous conflict over resources as Asia’s industrial revolutions clash head-on with the West’s entrenched consumption.

China’s Academy of Sciences said it had chosen a “thorium-based molten salt reactor system”. The liquid fuel idea was pioneered by US physicists at Oak Ridge National Lab in the 1960s, but the US has long since dropped the ball. Further evidence of Barack `Obama’s “Sputnik moment”, you could say.

Chinese scientists claim that hazardous waste will be a thousand times less than with uranium. The system is inherently less prone to disaster.

“The reactor has an amazing safety feature,” said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA engineer at Teledyne Brown and a thorium expert.

“If it begins to overheat, a little plug melts and the salts drain into a pan. There is no need for computers, or the sort of electrical pumps that were crippled by the tsunami. The reactor saves itself,” he said.

“They operate at atmospheric pressure so you don’t have the sort of hydrogen explosions we’ve seen in Japan. One of these reactors would have come through the tsunami just fine. There would have been no radiation release.”

Thorium is a silvery metal named after the Norse god of thunder. The metal has its own “issues” but no thorium reactor could easily spin out of control in the manner of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, or now Fukushima.

Professor Robert Cywinksi from Huddersfield University said thorium must be bombarded with neutrons to drive the fission process. “There is no chain reaction. Fission dies the moment you switch off the photon beam. There are not enough neutrons for it continue of its own accord,” he said.

Dr Cywinski, who anchors a UK-wide thorium team, said the residual heat left behind in a crisis would be “orders of magnitude less” than in a uranium reactor.

The earth’s crust holds 80 years of uranium at expected usage rates, he said. Thorium is as common as lead. America has buried tons as a by-product of rare earth metals mining. Norway has so much that Oslo is planning a post-oil era where thorium might drive the country’s next great phase of wealth. Even Britain has seams in Wales and in the granite cliffs of Cornwall. Almost all the mineral is usable as fuel, compared to 0.7pc of uranium. There is enough to power civilization for thousands of years.

I write before knowing the outcome of the Fukushima drama, but as yet none of 15,000 deaths are linked to nuclear failure. Indeed, there has never been a verified death from nuclear power in the West in half a century. Perspective is in order.

We cannot avoid the fact that two to three billion extra people now expect – and will obtain – a western lifestyle. China alone plans to produce 100m cars and buses every year by 2020.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said the world currently has 442 nuclear reactors. They generate 372 gigawatts of power, providing 14pc of global electricity. Nuclear output must double over twenty years just to keep pace with the rise of the China and India.

If a string of countries cancel or cut back future reactors, let alone follow Germany’s Angela Merkel in shutting some down, they shift the strain onto gas, oil, and coal. Since the West is also cutting solar subsidies, they can hardly expect the solar industry to plug the gap.
BP’s disaster at Macondo should teach us not to expect too much from oil reserves deep below the oceans, beneath layers of blinding salt. Meanwhile, we rely uneasily on Wahabi repression to crush dissent in the Gulf and keep Arabian crude flowing our way. So where can we turn, unless we revert to coal and give up on the ice caps altogether? That would be courting fate.

US physicists in the late 1940s explored thorium fuel for power. It has a higher neutron yield than uranium, a better fission rating, longer fuel cycles, and does not require the extra cost of isotope separation.

The plans were shelved because thorium does not produce plutonium for bombs. As a happy bonus, it can burn up plutonium and toxic waste from old reactors, reducing radio-toxicity and acting as an eco-cleaner.

Dr Cywinski is developing an accelerator driven sub-critical reactor for thorium, a cutting-edge project worldwide. It needs to £300m of public money for the next phase, and £1.5bn of commercial investment to produce the first working plant. Thereafter, economies of scale kick in fast. The idea is to make pint-size 600MW reactors.

Yet any hope of state support seems to have died with the Coalition budget cuts, and with it hopes that Britain could take a lead in the energy revolution. It is understandable, of course. Funds are scarce. The UK has already put its efforts into the next generation of uranium reactors. Yet critics say vested interests with sunk costs in uranium technology succeeded in chilling enthusiasm.

The same happened a decade ago to a parallel project by Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). France’s nuclear industry killed proposals for funding from Brussels, though a French group is now working on thorium in Grenoble.

Norway’s Aker Solution has bought Professor Rubbia’s patent. It had hoped to build the first sub-critical reactor in the UK, but seems to be giving up on Britain and locking up a deal to build it in China instead, where minds and wallets are more open.

So the Chinese will soon lead on this thorium technology as well as molten-salts. Good luck to them. They are doing Mankind a favour. We may get through the century without tearing each other apart over scarce energy and wrecking the planet."

Culled from The Daily Telegraph.

 Global NGO Coalition Welcomes Grenada’s Accession to the Rome Statute Says Becoming 115th ICC State Party Demonstrates Strong Commitment to Justice

Lima, Peru/ The Hague, Netherlands – On 19 May 2011, Grenada acceded to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) — the founding treaty of the first permanent international court capable of trying perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Grenada’s accession demonstrates its strong commitment to justice and the rule of law, the Coalition stated today. 

“Grenada’s accession affirms its commitment to preventing and putting an end to impunity for serious crimes,” said Coalition Convenor William R. Pace. “This decision is an important step toward universality of the Rome Statute in the Caribbean Community, and we hope this will inspire other states in the region to join this extraordinary justice system promptly.”

The Coalition for the International Criminal Court — a civil society network of 2,500 organizations in over 150 countries advocating for a fair, effective and independent ICC and improved access to justice for victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity — commends Grenada for its decision to join 114 other nations around the world and spread support for the ICC in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

With Grenada’s accession and the ratification of Saint Lucia in August 2010, only three states in the CARICOM have yet to ratify the Statute: the Bahamas, Jamaica and Haiti. Caribbean states and civil society played a key role in the creation and establishment of the ICC. In 1989, during the United Nations’ 44th General Assembly, Trinidad and Tobago submitted an agenda item on the establishment of an international criminal court for the Assembly’s consideration. This motion – which gained the support of a number of states, including all CARICOM member states – ultimately resulted in a consensus resolution that called for the creation of an international criminal court.


 “The acceptance by Grenada of the Rome Statute restates in the most eloquent terms possible the continued commitment of the Caribbean Community to the ICC,” noted the Honorable Mr. Justice Winston Anderson, Judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice, former General Counsel of the Caribbean Community, and Professor of International Law at the University of West Indies.  “The Grenadian acceptance also symbolizes the region's commitment to the maintenance of international criminal justice and the rule of law rather than the rule of the jungle. This is a proud moment in Caribbean jurisprudence,” Justice Anderson added.

On 16 and 17 May 2011, government representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Haiti, Jamaica and Grenada, notable jurists and personalities from the region  such as the Hon. A.N.R. Robinson,
former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as ICC President Judge Sang-Hyun Song, the President of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) Christian Wenaweser, and the Coalition’s Americas Coordinator Francesca Varda gathered in Port of Spain for a CARICOM seminar on the ICC organized by the government of Trinidad and Tobago.
 
“In addition to welcoming this important accession to the Rome Statute by Grenada, discussions during the conference centered on the need for all states parties to fully support the ICC and to adopt legislation on Rome Statute crimes at the national level and allow effective cooperation with the Court,” said the Coalition’s Americas Coordinator Francesca Varda.
 
By joining the ICC treaty today, Grenada will also be able to nominate and elect highly qualified candidates for crucial ICC elections scheduled for December 2011, during which state parties will elect six new judges and a new prosecutor, among other key officials. 

Background: The ICC is the world’s first, permanent international court to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Central to the Court’s mandate is the principle of complementarity, which holds that the Court will only intervene if national legal systems are unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. There are currently six active investigations before the Court: the Central African Republic; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, the Sudan; Kenya; Libya; and Uganda. The ICC has publicly issued 15 arrest warrants and nine summonses to appear. Three trials are ongoing. The Office of the Prosecutor has made public that it is examining at least nine situations on four continents, including Afghanistan, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Republic of Korea, Nigeria, and Palestine. 

The Coalition for the International Criminal Court is a global network of civil society organizations in over 150 countries working in partnership to strengthen international cooperation with the ICC; ensure that the Court is fair, effective and independent; make justice both visible and universal; and advance stronger national laws that deliver justice to victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. For more information, visit:

www.coalitionfortheicc.org.