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General News of Sunday, 18 October 2015

Source: GNA

Corruption fight needs independent prosecution - CEPIL

Mr Augustine Niber holding a copy of the report Mr Augustine Niber holding a copy of the report

The Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) has warned that the fight against widespread corruption would remain a mirage if efforts are not made to establish an independent prosecution mechanism to combat the canker.

"There is an urgent need for independent prosecution mechanism in Ghana, indeed with the absence of an independent anti-corruption enforcement mechanism, Ghana will not succeed in its fight against corruption," CEPIL Executive Director, Mr Augustine Niber said.

Mr Niber gave the warning at a news briefing to share with journalists the Centre's latest findings in two research reports on the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the Public Accounts Committee of parliament.

The reports entitled: "Reviewing and reforming selected independent anti-corruption institutions: CHRAJ, EOCO, and the Public Accounts Committee and national commitment to fighting corruption"; and "How Ghana is not investing enough in anti-corruption initiatives".

Mr Niber said findings of the research revealed that anti-corruption institutions or agencies lacked operational independence, the power to prosecute, and that they were heavily under-resourced.

"What is even more worrying is the inconsistencies in the trend of budgetary allocations to many of the key anti-corruption institutions, which presents a major concern on how the budgets for these institutions are designed or developed," he said.

He said the power granted to the President by the Constitution to choose heads of vital anti-corruption institutions like the EOCO and CHRAJ undermined their commitment to fight corruption.

"There is the tendency that the President may choose a crony or a person who is sympathetic to the course of his/her party, and not necessarily because the person is competent for the job," he said.

The situation, Mr Niber said, might compromise the person's ability to hold the President or the appointees or party faithful to account for any acts of corruption being perpetuated.

The Centre, therefore, recommended that the mandate of anti-graft agencies like CHRAJ be separated into a distinct anti-corruption body and equipped with the necessary independence, prosecution powers and resources to address corruption issues in the county.

CEPIL also called for the appointment of heads of anti-graft bodies to be subjected to parliamentary approval, though, Mr Niber said the centre is aware of the constitutional implications.

He noted that if government is serious to combat corruption then it should effect the required changes.

"We are very much aware that the implementation of some of these recommendations will require constitutional changes, however, if we are desirous as a country to fight corruption, we should be ready to make the needed constitutional changes," he said.

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