Barker-Vormawor explains why the Ghana Bar Association is 'useless'

Lawyer Oliver Barker-Vormawor has reiterated his call for the overhauling of the Ghana Bar Association, describing it as a group of old people who see the the association as "an appendage of existing elite politics".

Oliver Barker-Vormawor

According to the #FixTheCountry convener, the Ghana Bar Association has failed to live up to expectations over the years, and only engages in discrimination against dissenting lawyers.

He went on to lament how the association has deliberately put clauses in its constitution to block vibrant young lawyers from taking up leadership positions.

Read the full writeup below as posted by Barker-Vormawor on his Facebook page on Thursday, July 21, 2022.

Neho! What use does the Ghana Bar Association serve?

  1. The tragedy of mediocrity is that it starts to feel normal.
  2. Yesterday, I joined a conversation with the President of the Gambian Bar Association. He talked at length about the many ways that he was making sure the Gambian Bar was present in supporting social causes; and being a partner of activists. He was prior to that a convenor of GambiaDecided, a viral social movement which came together to kick Yahya Jammeh out of power. Their JammehMustGo calls galvanized The Gambia and led to the fall of a dictatorship.
  3. Then I heard Nigerian activists talk about how frontal the outgoing President of the Nigerian Bar was about the Bar providing support to activism in Nigeria. They talked about how the Nigeria Bar was part of all coalitions; was providing pro bono representation to activists; was a leader in mobilizing civil society against social injustices.
  4. Then I thought about the Ghana Bar Association. I remembered when discussions about falling freedom of the Press standards came up. I wondered then why the Ghana Bar Association didn’t come out to issue a statement willing to offer pro bono representation to any journalist who felt under attack or had been attacked. Just show solidarity and making people see the Bar as a partner in democratic reforms.
  5. Then I thought about how 34 of some of the most known CSOs came together to create Webecitizens, in order to press for democratic accountability. Who was absent? The Ghana Bar Association.
  6. Nobody even noticed that they were not part of the coalition.
  7. I remembered how we as the #FixTheCountry legal team led this online petition calling on the Bar Association to do better in standing up for the defence and upholding of Freedom and Justice. [https://www.change.org/.../ghana-bar-association-ghana...]. It was widely covered.
  8. Under pressure from our petition, they finally came to issue some wishy washy statement about the techiman killings 1 year latter. At some point I wondered why they ddnt even apologize from the 1948 riots. They announced no calls for action; committed to do nothing and naturally went back to sleep. You see how they are quiet even with leakages of exams at the Ghana School of Law; or even in the ridiculous and immortal protocol admissions Maxwell Opoku Agyeman did at the School? They are only waiting for Francis-Xavier Sosu to criticize the Judges; so they can descend on him.
  9. For a moment yesterday, I contemplated finally joining the Bar Association just to run for President of the Ghana Bar. That way we can revive the Bar as leader in democratic accountability and as a friend of democratic activism. Maybe through that we could save our democracy, which has been brought dangerously close to its demise.
  10. But then guess what, they have a rule that you need to be 15 years at the Bar to be able to run for President. So institutionally they created these positions for old people who only see the Bar as an appendage of existing elite politics. They use it to boost their private law firms. They can tell clients that they are President of the Bar; and clients will be drawn to give them business because it makes people think they are top notch lawyers. It’s all about the profit incentive. They can sit on shallow boards and draw per diems that exact their conscience in return.
  11. See, there is no reason why the Bar Association. should have all those ridiculous age restrictions to hold leadership at the Bar. It’s a failure of thinking and just ageism that has become written into the fabric of a legal profession that seems intent on the elite culture of the Victorian Bar. And so they put in these unnecessary restrictions, so that by the time the person emerges to lead the Bar, he or she is part of their social clique. The system would have produced a person palatable to their conservativism and conformist culture.
  12. The Ghana Bar Association is a useless Bar.
  13. It’s no surprising that it’s only priorities now are printing Bar Stickers and Bar ID Cards so that lawyers can avoid pesty MTTU Policers. They don’t care about police indiscipline on the roads. They just want to make sure the problem doesn’t apply to them. Fuck the citizens.
  14. Charley, Young lawyers have a responsibility to Fix the Ghana Bar. And it starts from capturing the Bar so it can be used as a vehicle for good.
  15. Time to amend the Ghana Bar Constitution to kick out the enablers of our broken politics. Time to make the Ghana Bar Association, the leading activist body at the service of Democracy, Rule of Law and Dissent.

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