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General News of Tuesday, 12 September 2017


Independent prosecutor will not be completely independent - NPP MP suggests

The Chairman of the Constitution, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee has admitted the yet to be created office will not be independent after all.

Ben Abdalla Bandah told Joy News’ Evans Mensah there is no one independent person or institution in Ghana, not even the president.

He 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 organized 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 “public officers and politically exposed persons.”

The Minority Leader does not appear to agree with this.

“Who are politically exposed persons?” he asked adding, “What is even more important in the long title for our purposes is 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. He would rather have the president make the appointment of the Special Prosecutor with the prior approval of the Parliament.

Prof. H. Kwesi Prempeh of the Center for Democratic Development is also questioning why the bill gives the Special Prosecutor must only 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. He said the clause purports to draw a distinction between petty corruption and grand corruption.

If enacted into law, he said the clause will invite needless litigation over the mandate and jurisdiction of the office. Responding to the queries, the Chairman of the Constitution, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee said the contributions have come in good time.

The Special Prosecutor Office Bill is at its “incipient stage”; people are free to make inputs, suggested.

Even though the office is being set up to undertake independent prosecutions, Ben Abdalla Bandah said the Office cannot be entirely independent.

According to him, the Special Prosecutor will be “accountable to the Attorney General.”