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02.08.2005 Regional News

Whistle Blowers Bill should not be used for witch-hunting

GNA

Cape Coast, Aug. 2, GNA-Participants at the Central Region public hearing on the Representation of People's Amendment and the Whistle Blower's Bills currently before Parliament, on Tuesday, cautioned that the Whistle Blower's Bill when passed by Parliament should not be used for witch-hunting.

They therefore, stressed the need to ensure that allegations made against both public officials and individuals, are thoroughly investigated before action is taken, and not to just rely on anonymous letters, and that those who give out information found to be valid, should be well protected. The forum, which is the seventh to be held in the country, was organised by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, and was attended by students, traditional rulers, heads of departments, DCEs and a cross section of the public. It was among others, aimed at collating views on the representation amendment bill to enable the committee to consider useful suggestions towards its effective passage.

The participants, were unanimous in their stance that it was important for the two bills to be passed, since they were a constitutional provision, and argued that some Ghanaians outside on peace missions, scholarships and at the Embassies, already vote.

They however, cautioned that all the loopholes that are likely to crop up after their implementation should be addressed. Mr Issah Tawiah, a trader said the Representation Bill was good because it would make Ghanaians resident outside to "be proud of their country", but asked the government and the Electoral Commission (EC) to ensure that the conduction of elections are free and fair when the bill is passed.

Mr Kwame Osei-Prempeh, MP for Nsuta -Kwamang-Beposo and chairman of the committee, Who, earlier explained the two bills commended the region for being the only region that the forum has been well attended, and the participants for comporting themselves. According to him, Parliament could just have gone ahead to pass the

bills but it was a "listening Parliament", and found it necessary to organise the forum to enable the public to come out with their views, comments and contributions.

Mr. Osei-Prempeh said it was the duty of the committee to set the legal framework for the EC to work with and that it "would not force the Commission do anything it cannot do." Mr Isaac Edumadze, Regional Minister and Osabarima Kwesi Atta II Oguaahene also commended the people for comporting themselves and making meaningful contributions towards the two bills.

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