MPs poised to debate Special Prosecutor Bill

 Prof. Mike Oquaye, Speaker of Parliament

Prof. Mike Oquaye, Speaker of Parliament

The report of Parliament’s Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, on the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, could not be laid last Friday.

No reason was assigned by the leadership of the House.

This follows the Committee’s conclusion of consultations with various stakeholders concerned with the Bill.

The objective of the Bill is to establish a specialised agency to investigate specific cases of corruption involving public officers, as well as individuals in the private sector implicated in corrupt acts.

Ahead of the presentation of the report to the House, Vice Chairman of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Alexander Abban, noted that a serious debate waits the laying of the bill.

“We as a committee advertised for the submission of memoranda by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), individuals, and anybody who cared to submit one.

“There are people who even think that the whole exercise becomes unconstitutional with regards to the provisions in Article 88 of the constitution, others think otherwise.

So the lines are drawn for heavy debate on this matter on the floor of Parliament,” Mr Abban added.

Meanwhile, Senior Law Lecturer at the University of Ghana, Dr Raymond Atuguba,  has argued that Parliament does not have the powers to consider the Special Prosecutor Bill.

Speaking at a forum organised by the Centre for Social Democracy at the University of Ghana Political Science Department, Dr Atuguba said Parliament is constitutionally constrained from considering the Bill and approving it.

“Parliament itself is constitutionally constrained from giving prosecutorial powers to an independent special prosecutor because Parliament cannot do that.

“Those powers have already been vested in one person [Attorney General],” he added.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor is to enable the government deal with issues of corruption, especially among state officials.

Under the Bill, an independent prosecutor will head the office and prosecute corruption offenses by state officers.
It was one of the major promises made by President Akufo-Addo as part of his plans to deal with corruption in government.

The Bill which was laid before Parliament was later withdrawn after the Minority challenged the procedure for laying it, claiming it was unconstitutional.

The Bill was subsequently re-laid before the House. –

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