Beyond Martyrs’ Day…Address human rights abuses – Rev. Opuni Frimpong tells lawyers

The immediate past General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Rev. Dr Kwabena Opuni Frimpong, has called on the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) to go beyond the mere commemoration of Martyrs’ Day to talk about the human rights abuses in the system.

He said after 40 years of the celebration of the unfortunate killing of the three High Court judges, it was time for the association to raise concerns about the continuous violation of people’s rights.

He said people were gradually losing trust in the justice delivery system and rather resorting to unorthodox means of resolving issues, including invocation of deities and seeking refuge in the media.

“They should go beyond the celebration of memorial days and raise conversation on issues of human rights,“ he said.

Rev. Dr Opuni Frimpong explained that this had come about due to the perception that justice was for the highest bidder or the privileged.

Image redemption

Delivering a sermon at this year’s Martyrs’ Day celebration in Kumasi, Rev. Dr Opuni Frimpong urged the GBA to redeem its image by going beyond just the celebration to provide legal education to the public.

“There are still those who hold the view that justice is for the highest bidder, those who have money, those who have gone to school.

“It is not for village people, the illiterates, to the extent that even pastors are abusing people, and we are saying that as a nation, if we still hold the conscience of what happened 41 years ago, we must put on the national agenda issues of human rights and human dignity,” he said.

He urged lawyers and judges to use the day to “talk to Ghanaians in schools, churches, markets and media platforms that never again should Ghanaian soil drink the blood of innocent people like it happened 41 years ago”.


Rev. Dr Opuni Frimpong said if the association failed to do that, ignorant people might again join the bandwagon if there was a call for “let the blood flow” as it happened 41 years ago.

“Those days, I was a student then, and we were ignorant.

We didn’t understand what was going on but we joined.

“Today, there are still people who are supporting such things, and what we are saying is that people do that out of ignorance.

They don’t understand the law, and the way to address that is to give what I call legal education beyond the Law school,” he said.

He said knowing one’s right should not be just the preserve of those who had gone to Law school but ordinary people as well, stressing that “it must be facilitated by the Ghana Bar Association”.

Call to duty

The Ashanti Regional President of the association, Kwame Owusu Sekyere, called on his colleague lawyers to remain vigilant and take cognisance of the threats to the rule of law in the country if the death of the departed judges was to remain meaningful.

He said the rule of law would be meaningless “if there is no access to speedy and effective justice anchored on robust and effective legal representation of persons in conflict with the law”.

He stressed that without access to speedy and effective justice, “persons, especially members of the vulnerable groups, are unable to have their voices heard, exercise and protect their rights or hold decision- makers accountable”.

The Martyrs’ Day celebration is in remembrance of Justices Fred Poku Sarkodee, Cecilia Koranteng-Addow and Kwadwo Agyei Agyapong, all judges of the High Court, and a retired Army officer,  Major Sam Acquah, who were abducted on June 30, 1982, and later murdered.