On March 12, Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan hosted a reception for former U.S. federal Judge Ann Claire Williams, accompanied by U.S. federal judge Margo Brodie, Minnesota Judge Susan Burke, and former U.S. federal Judge Donald Graham, and Ghana’s judiciary. The Ambassador took the opportunity to praise the continued relationship between the countries and highlighted the importance of the judiciary in a democracy. In her remarks, she pledged the U.S. government’s commitment in strengthening Ghana’s justice sector, as both countries learn from each other. Judge Ann Claire Williams and other visiting American federal judges came to Ghana to strengthen senior-level engagements among American and Ghanaian justice sector leaders. Read Ambassador Sullivan’s remarks below.
Remarks by Ambassador Stephanie Sanders Sullivan
at Reception to Honor Judge Ann Claire Williams
and Ghanaian Justice Sector Leaders
at the Residence on March 12, 2019, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Ladies and gentlemen;
It is a real pleasure to welcome you tonight to honor your partnerships with Judge Ann Claire Williams and our visiting American federal judges this week. I would like to thank Judge Williams, Judge Brodie, Judge Burke, and Judge Graham for coming here to Ghana to strengthen senior-level engagements among American and Ghanaian justice sector leaders. This visit is very fitting indeed, as Ghana is proudly one of the leading democracies in Africa and the world.
As democracies, both our nations understand that a strong, effective, and independent judiciary is the bedrock to safeguard our liberties. Our citizens and media institutions – which must always be vibrant, independent, and responsible – are constantly evaluating and reporting on the state of our justice systems. Access to justice, and the provision of justice, are fundamental human rights.
As you have discussed in your exchanges, effective case management is intrinsic to the right to due process. We cannot over emphasize the role that the judiciary plays in promoting the stability and strength of a nation. The judiciary ensures accountability and transparency.
Citizens and journalists rightfully expect that the courts implement justice equally under the law for all citizens, with transparency and accountability, without special privileges or concessions for the wealthy, powerful, or connected. Democracies are stronger when citizens trust the justice sector. In the same manner, democracy is eroded when citizens lose trust in this key institution.
In democracies, strong justice sectors are a key safeguard against corruption. Fear of being held accountable is a strong deterrent to bad behavior. A strong judiciary also ensures that all international and domestic investors in Ghana play by fair rules.
When we genuinely cherish our democracies, we start by nourishing and protecting our justice institutions, which are an important foundation for a future of peace and prosperity. A strong and independent judiciary can lead to greater trade and investment, and private sector growth that creates jobs for youth to confidently build their futures here at home. It is essential for all of us – and equally important, for the courts – to protect and defend the human rights of all citizens across this nation without exception.
There is a Ghanaian proverb which says: “The responsibility of power is like holding an egg. Grasp it too tightly and it will drip through your fingers; hold it too loosely and it will drop and break.” So it is with your stewardship in nurturing the power of the justice sector. Justice becomes frail if we become complacent in its protection. That is why this training is so important.
Your presence here tonight, and professional exchanges this week, underscore our shared beliefs in core values. I close by saying that as we recently celebrated Black History last month and now as we celebrate Women’s History Month, we honor the extraordinary lifetime achievements of Judge Williams and our distinguished visiting judges. They represent the promise of the American dream, just as each of you and your children represent the promise of the Ghanaian dream.
I pledge that you can count on the United States of America as a partner in your journey to strengthen Ghana’s justice sector, as we learn together and from one another.