Bill on Conduct of public officers before Parliament

Mr Charles Ayamdo  addressing participants at the workshop.

Mr Charles Ayamdo addressing participants at the workshop.

A Bill on the Conduct of Public Officers is currently before Parliament for consideration.

 

One of the key components of the Bill is the criminalisation of illicit enrichment, usually referred to as unexplained wealth, which has not been established as an offence in existing legislations.

 

Mr Charles Ayamdo, Director of Anti-Corruption, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), said the criminalisation of illicit enrichment would be in compliance with Article 5 of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC), which requires state parties to criminalise it.

 

When passed, the law, he said would help to prevent illegal acquisition of wealth not only by public officials but by any other citizen.

 

He was speaking at an engagement with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the media in Accra yesterday on enhancing awareness in Ghana’s obligations under the AUCPCC.

 

He explained further that the law on Conduct for Public Officers would consolidate other policies and laws to rid the public sector of corruption and ensure the development of an effective gift policy.

 

Additionally, it would enhance the assets declaration regime, which was currently deficient in many respects, and form the basis for reforms in order to maximise the benefits of a robust and strong asset declaration framework, Mr Ayamdo stated.

 

The lack of a centralised agency to manage confiscated assets procured from corruption, he said, was disruptive in ensuring transparency in how those assets were managed and urged government to, as a matter of urgency, work towards establishing a confiscated assets agency as it is in other countries.

 

“The Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), the Narcotics Control Board and the Office of the Special Prosecutor are separately responsible for the management of assets they confiscate as it stands now.  Management of assets is about investment, preserving and disposing ones that cannot be preserved. When an asset is to be returned to the owner after a trial and it is found to have depreciated, the state incurs losses by paying compensation. We need a central point that will take care of all assets seized. An agency set aside with professional staff who are capable of managing assets,” he stated.

 

In 2015, Mr Ayamdo said, CHRAJ engaged stakeholders including the government on the establishment of the agency adding that an Inter-Ministerial team visited a number of countries to study the plan and strategy employed by those countries in setting-up the agency.

 

Some participants reiterated calls on the government to pass the Right to Information Bill to enable the media and CSOs to actively play its roles in curbing corruption.

By Claude Nyarko Adams

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