Special Prosecutor Bill Will Be Independent – Dame
The Deputy Minister-designate for Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame has given the assurance that the bill that will create the Office of the Special Prosecutor will be drafted in a way that will give no room for political interference in the work of the prosecutor, and thereby make the office a truly independent entity.
He said the Office of the Special Prosecutor would be insulated from the Attorney General and the influence of the Executive since the Attorney General is the principal legal adviser to the government and therefore works under the direction of the president.
The Deputy Minister-designate gave the assurance when he appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament yesterday
He noted that the establishment of the office is also not against the tenets of the Constitution as many political opponents are saying, and that it is in line with the demands of the Constitution which gives the Attorney General the leverage to delegate part of their prosecutorial powers in terms of criminal prosecution to a new body through an act of parliament.
Mr Yeboah Dame said the Special Prosecutor will prosecute cases of corruption, abuse of office and of public trust; and will do that very independently without fear or favour.
He said the creation of the office is in line with the manifesto of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to fight corruption which has given rise to the careless dissipation of public resources.
When he was asked by the minority leader, Haruna Iddrissu, about how fair he would be in the discharge of his duties since he has openly been representing the NPP in court cases, Mr Yeboah Dame said he had always been fair in his dealings as a legal practitioner and that apart from the responsibilities of the office of the Attorney General as spelt out in the Constitution, the ethics of the profession demand that a legal person should always be fair to all manner of people.
When he was further asked about the general notion that some lawyers are seen and classified as NPP lawyers while others are seen and classified as National Democratic Congress (NDC) lawyers, Dame indicated that those lawyers have unfortunately created that perception for themselves.
He explained that it is not good for lawyers to openly come on air to be talking for political parties or defending political parties on any issue that will open themselves to all kinds of perceptions.
He indicated that he has personally avoided speaking on radio stations since that will compromise on his professional integrity, even though he has represented the ruling NPP in court on so many occasions.
He said anytime a lawyer decides to speak on partisan issues on air, people will begin to categorise that person as either NPP or NDC lawyer, so it is imperative for lawyers to desist from making open comments on partisan issues.
Lawyer Dame was particularly not happy that despite the freedom of speech and of the media enshrined in the Constitution, civil suits on defamation seem to be stifling the freedom of the media.
According to him, it is unthinkable for a court to award damages of GH¢200,000 against a media house for a defamation while criminal cases where people lose their limbs, a court can award just GH¢8,000 as compensation.
The Deputy Minister-designate called for the strengthening of the Legal Aid Board to ensure that the vulnerable in the society could solicit free services of legal practitioners.
The other Deputy Minister-designate for Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Joseph Dindiok Kpemka, who also appeared before the committee, strongly advocated an immediate ban on illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey, stressing that the phenomenon, which has assumed alarming proportion, is a serious threat to humanity and the survival of succeeding generations.
He said when a ban is placed on galamsey operations, the system should be completely restructured and the licensing for the operation of small-scale mining would be reexamined.
Mr. Kpemka also subscribed to the setting up of the special prosecutor's office, stressing that in order to give it acceptability to all groups of people, consensus building had to be sought in parliament and by so doing, the special prosecutor could be subjected to parliamentary vetting and approval before that person begins work.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr