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20.03.2006 General News

Take another look at who can prosecute corruption cases - Adjaho


Accra, March 20, GNA - The Minority Chief Whip, Mr Doe Adjaho on Monday called for a second look to be taken at the 1992 Constitution, especially the section that granted the Attorney-General the sole prerogative of prosecution of corruption cases.

He said changes in the constitutional provision that would take away the prosecutorial right from the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General were necessary if the battle against corruption in the country were to succeed.

"The current practice effectively ties the hands of the Attorney-General, who is appointed by Government, to deal with cases involving colleague Ministers and high ranked government officials," he said.

Besides the lack of prosecutorial powers for constitutionally mandated bodies such as the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) is further worsened in the situation where reports of their investigations into corruption cases must be submitted to the Attorney-General for advice on either to prosecute or not.

Mr Adjaho was speaking at a two-day regional workshop on advancing anti-corruption conventions in Africa being organized by Transparency International, United Nations Development Programme and the Institute for Security Studies.

Government officials and members of Civil Society Organisations from 13 countries in the West Africa Sub-Region would update their knowledge on the global and regional initiatives currently in place to mitigate corruption, especially the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and Related Offences.

Mr Adjaho said the fight against corruption would only be won through a bi-partisan approach, where both the Majority and the Minority understood that it was in the best interest of the country to deal with the canker.

He said he was happy that Ghana had ratified both Conventions and was working to get a draft legislation to give meaning to the implementation of the conventions.

Ghana is the 11th country to ratify the Convention. Fifteen countries are required to bring it into force. Mr Yaw Baah, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Judiciary, said there was the urgent need to revisit the issue, saying that the prosecution being the sole reserve of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General did not augur well for advancing the anti-corruption agenda.

He said efforts should also be geared towards encouraging private prosecution, which was allowed by the Criminal Code but silent in the Constitution.

Mr Daouda Toure, UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana, said although there had been international anti-corruption agreements in the past, their implementation had been difficult. He said corruption undermined democratic institutions, retarded economic development and contributed to political and social instability. It was also a barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.