Parliament needs own Legal Unit, says Bagbin















Mr. Alban Bagbin, Majority Leader, has called for a legal unit in parliament to advise on various legal frameworks submitted to the House.

He said the practice by which most legislative pieces ought to pass through the Attorney-General for advice does not create the environment for parliamentary independence.

Mr. Bagbin said this at a two-day workshop in Accra for Parliamentary Monitoring Organisations (PMOs) in Africa.

The event, which brought many PMOs and civil society organisations in Africa together, was aimed at creating a forum for the participants to share best practices, learn from one another and explore effective ways of engaging parliaments.

It was organised by the Centre for Democratic Development, Ghana, in collaboration with the African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs.

Mr. Bagbin said it was time Parliament had its legal department to advise the House to accelerate its legislative work.

He said under the circumstances, most legislative instruments which were unduly delayed at the Attorney General Office could have been attended to by the legal department.

Mr. Bagbin commended the organisers of the conference, since it was the first stage leading to the intention of connecting Parliamentary Monitoring Organisations (PMOs) in Africa to share best practices, learn from one another and explore effective ways of engaging parliaments.

He said the representative role of parliament required that the House effectively communicates its work, educate citizens about its roles and functions and provide opportunities for citizens to engage in policy discussions.

Mr. Bagbin said PMOs are potentially viable allies in the process of strengthening and promoting parliament through its monitoring work which helps to put the House on track and equip it to provide the necessary oversight over the executive.

Ambassador Francis Tsegah, Senior Research Fellow at the CDD, said the PMOs are important instruments for transparency and accountability which was important for everyday democracy.

“We all agree that the Parliaments are essential institutions in a democracy and the welfare of citizens is a primary reason for which parliaments exist,” he said.

He said for Parliament to be effective, citizens’ assessments and opinions of their functions should never be overloaded.

Ambassador Tsegah said, the conference provided a unique platform to assist PMOs to familiarise themselves with modern tools and techniques that would enable constructive assessment of performance of legislative bodies.

He expressed the hope that the discussion would not only generate ideas to substantially enrich the work of African Parliaments, but would also explore ways to support parliamentarians and Parliament as an institution to be very responsive to their constituents.

“At the level of CDD, we are confident that the smoothness of the this project will lay a strong foundation for parliaments to be more open to engagements from civil groups and networks that are interested in their activities,” he said.

Ambassador Tsegah said it was for this reason that the project should be given every support to succeed.

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