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Crowdsourcing Solutions to Corruption in Ghana

2014-10-17 07:03:35

I'm disinclined to wax poetic on the evils of corruption, as most people in Ghana, as well as foreigners and potential investors, are already familiar with the issue. The solution to corruption in Ghana, in my view, is two-fold, namely: (1) strengthen mechanisms to detect corruption; (2) vigorously prosecute offenders, dramatically increase sentencing for corrupt acts, and enforce punishment for said acts. It is the confluence of the above two, rather than each considered separately, that will serve as an effective deterrence.

While it is debatable that would-be violators engage in an elaborate calculus before committing the crime of corruption, the existence of punishment, standing alone, will not effectively dissuade corruption, if would-be violators are convinced they will not be caught. The reverse is true, as catching violators is largely meaningless, if they do not suffer the consequences of their actions. Furthermore, the punishment ought to be set at a level where the consequences outweigh the gains to be derived from committing the act. To this end, I would not be opposed to mandating life sentences for the most egregious acts of corruption. Corollary to the above, our judicial system should be tasked with setting minimum mandatory sentences, and executive pardons should be prohibited with respect to the crime of corruption. Some might, rightfully, raise concerns about the human rights implications of the above proposals, and the possibility of prosecution of corruption turning into a political witch-hunt when governments change hands. The concern is valid, which is why we should ensure that the due process rights of persons accused of corruption are vigorously safeguarded.

The punishment itself however, does not implicate human rights. The cost of corruption to the nation is a price Ghana can ill-afford to bear. Against the backdrop of corrupt practices acts promulgated in OECD countries, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the US, and the UK Bribery Act, corruption not only wrecks havoc on the Ghanaian economy from a domestic standpoint (by robbing the government of revenue etc.), but it also dissuades foreign investment at a time when Ghana needs it the most.

One remaining problem is that corruption so permeates the fabric of Ghanaian society, that we additionally have to safeguard against the possibility of the judges and administrators of justice being themselves corrupt. One way to do that is to ensure that they are adequately compensated to reduce the chances of corruption. Secondly, the reward for, and protections afforded to, whistle-blowers should be adequate enough to make it worthwhile. Thirdly, an independent agency (an ombudsman of sorts), in conjunction with watchdogs, should police the administrators of justice.

The above suggestions are not exhaustive, but should serve as a starting point in addressing the cancer that is corruption in Ghana. Additional ideas and objections are welcome.

[This is an authentic posting from Spector (Registered User)]
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