‘Independent prosecutor will not be completely independent’

Ms. Gloria Akuffo, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice

Ms. Gloria Akuffo, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice

The Chairman of the Constitution, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Ben Abdallah Banda has admitted the yet to be created Office of the Special Prosecutor will not be independent after all.

 

He explained that there is no one independent person or institution in Ghana, not even the president.

 

Mr Abdallah was contributing to the controversial Special Prosecutor Office Bill which is yet to be taken back to Parliament for approval after the initial attempt to pass it fell through.

 

There is currently a process of consultation ongoing to seek inputs from all stakeholders.

One of such consultations is a two-day forum organised by Parliament’s Constitution and Legal Affairs Committee which saw civil society groups and the Minority Leader all sharing their opinions on the matter.

 

The Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu did not understand why the special prosecutor will be expected to act on the authority of the Attorney-General instead of being truly independent.

 

According to the Bill, the person to be appointed as the Special Prosecutor must have relevant expertise in corruption matters and the persons to be prosecuted must also be deemed to be “public officers and politically exposed persons”.

 

The Minority Leader does not appear to agree with this.

 

“Who are politically exposed persons?” Mr Iddrisu asked adding, “What is even more important in the long title for our purposes are when you say prosecute these offences on the authority of the Attorney-General. Which Attorney General?

“Where then is the independence that you promised?” he questioned.

Mr Iddrisu would rather have the president make the appointment of the Special Prosecutor with the prior approval of Parliament.

 

Professor Kwesi Prempeh of the Centre for Democratic Development also questioned why the Bill gives the Special Prosecutor to preside over corruption issues that involve large sums of money.

 

“We respectfully and strongly object to the inclusion in this bill of this sub clause 4 and we advise that it be deleted in its entirety.

“The clause purports to draw a distinction between petty corruption and grand corruption.

 

“If enacted into law the clause will invite needless litigation over the mandate and jurisdiction of the office,” Prof Prempeh stressed.

Responding to the queries, Mr Banda indicated that the contributions have come in good time since the Special Prosecutor Office Bill is at its “incipient stage” and people are free to make inputs.

 

Even though the office is being set up to undertake independent prosecution, he insisted the Office cannot be entirely independent.

 

Professor Prempeh noted the Special Prosecutor will be “accountable to the Attorney-General”. –myjoyonline.com

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