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27.04.2014 General News

Law to regulate conduct of public officials in the offing

By Caroline Boateng - Daily Graphic
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The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) is currently spearheading the passage of the Public Officers Conduct Bill, which would regulate the conduct of public officers in relation to their official functions.

It would also give legal backing to the “Code of Conduct for Public Officers of Ghana and Guidelines on Conflict of Interest” which it launched  in December 2006.

A Public Officers Conduct law has become necessary because of challenges with the adoption of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers of Ghana and Guidelines on Conflict of Interest by public officials, who have maintained in their deliberations with the commission that the code is merely optional and not obligatory.

The Public Officers Conduct Bill has received input from the Attorney-General's Department and also been tabled at the Cabinet level.

It is currently being fine-tuned to be placed before Parliament for passage.

A new wave
Two Deputy Commissioners of the CHRAJ, Mr Richard Quayson, who is in charge of Public Education and Anti-Corruption, and Mr Joseph Whittal, who oversees Human Rights and Administration at the commission, explained to the Daily Graphic that the law would push the fight against corruption further.

They added that when it became law, the Public Officers Conduct Bill would ensure robust administrative measures that would tackle corrupt practices at all institutional levels.

For instance, any behaviour that was found to be corrupt would attract administrative sanctions, some of which might be the barring of the offending person from holding public office for a specific period, depending on the gravity of the behaviour.

The two commissioners decried the fixation of the Ghanaian on the legal system for fighting corruption when it had already occurred, and said it was time for the country to resort to all the various measures at its disposal to wage the campaign against corruption.

They said codes of conduct and client service charters for all ministries, departments and agencies of the government were some of the administrative measures that would be employed in the campaign against corruption.

Chapter 24 elaboration
CHRAJ in 2006 launched the Code of Conduct for Public Officers of Ghana and Guidelines on Conflict of Interest based on Chapter 24 of the 1992 Constitution.

Article 284 of Chapter 24 states that “A public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts or is likely to conflict with the performance of the functions of his office.”

Within the code of conduct and guidelines on conflict of interest are provisions on issues such as the standards in service, political neutrality in the course of carrying out functions and guidelines on conflict of interest.

The guidelines on conflict of interest have provisions relating to gifts.

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