Ghanaian judge, Justice Gertrude Torkornoo wishes judges wear African print and not black suit

An Appeals Court judge in Ghana Justice Gertrude Torkornoo has supported calls for the reformation in the dress code of the Ghanaian judiciary.

Justice Gertrude Torkornoo

Answering a question on the weather conditions and the dress code of the members of the judiciary, Justice Torkornoo said a change will reflect the values and conditions in the country.

She said this when she appeared before Parliament’s Appointment Committee on Tuesday to be vetted for her newly appointed position as a Supreme Court judge.

President Akufo-Addo promoted three female Appeals Court justices including Justice Gertrude Torkornoo to the Supreme Court.

Her comment about the judiciary’s dressing is coming at a time when other countries have reviewed the mandatory dress code in courtrooms due to convenience, aesthetic and anti-colonial sentiments.

For example, Former British colonies including Ghana, Kenya, and Zimbabwe are still abiding by the UK legal system where judges and lawyers wear wigs and robes.

However, the constitutional court in Malawi suspended the wearing of traditional white wigs and black robes in the courtroom in November this year. The country which was also a colony suspended the wig and gowns due to the temperature levels in the country kept soaring.

Responding to a question posed by North Tongu legislator, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Justice Torkornoo said, “I wish we could even wear African print rather than black suits.”

In November 2017, Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo instructed that judges wear wigs during court sittings to among other things “to preserve the uniqueness of the work of judges and the legal profession” and “restore the formal nature of court proceedings and eliminate the creeping casualness in the system.”

But the Chairman of Parliament’s Appointments Committee, Joseph Osei-Owusu said the status quo must be maintained.

“I wish she [Justice Gertrude Torkornoo] never gets the opportunity to decide what we wear. For those who don’t want to be lawyers, there is the option of becoming other. If you choose to become a lawyer, you must live by the tenets of the profession,” the legal practitioner said.

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