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Title:'Our courts, our cases and we are the judges': chiefs as judges in the Houses of Chiefs in Ghana
Author:Anamzoya, Alhassan SulemanaISNI
Periodical:Legon Journal of Sociology (ISSN 0855-6261)
Geographic term:Ghana
Subjects:customary courts
legal procedure
traditional rulers
Abstract:Besides the Supreme Court, the Traditional Councils and the Houses of Chiefs are the official courts mandated by Ghana's 1992 Republican Constitution and the Chieftaincy Act, 2008 (Act 759) to adjudicate and determine the substance of chieftaincy succession disputes. The Houses of Chiefs serve as customary courts but have over the years incorporated certain practices of the English law in their proceedings. Through the historical method, interviews and observations, this paper explores the role of chiefs as judges in Ghana's Houses of Chiefs. The paper first takes a historical view of the Houses of Chiefs, starting from chieftaincy courts (native courts in colonial Ghana), and then after Ghana's independence in 1957, when the Houses of Chiefs system was formed. It then deals with the structure and the judicial processes in the contemporary Houses of Chiefs. The key finding is that the Houses of Chiefs in Ghana are courts adjudicating chieftaincy disputes, with the chiefs sitting as the judges in these courts. However, the dependency of these courts on the State for funds and support personnel has implications for the judicial processes, and possibly, the rulings of the courts. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]