Joseph Whittal (left), Commissioner, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, addressing participants in the meeting. Picture: ELVIS NII NOI DOWUONA
Joseph Whittal (left), Commissioner, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, addressing participants in the meeting. Picture: ELVIS NII NOI DOWUONA

Pass Conduct of Public Officers Bill to fight corruption — CHRAJ

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has called for the passage of the Conduct of Public Officers Bill and the Criminal Offences (Amendment) Bill 2021, to help in the fight against corruption among public office holders. 

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The two bills, the commissioner said, were important innovations in the anti-corruption legal framework in the country that would domesticate the AU Convention on Prevention and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC) and the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in the country.

The Commissioner of CHRAJ, Joseph Whittal, said: “The Conduct of Public Officers Bill is better known in the public domain.

In my view, the Criminal Offences (Amendment) Bill which the Attorney-General had consulted stakeholders on for input is lesser known but equally very important in the light of the domestication of the AUCPCC in Ghana,”

The Criminal Offences Bill, he said, comprised offences such as bribery of a foreign public officer and an officer of a public international organisation, embezzlement, misappropriation or diversion of property by a public officer, bribery in the private sector, concealment of proceeds of crime and illicit enrichment. 

Event

The commissioner was speaking at a roundtable discussion organised by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) as part of activities to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the AUCPCC in Accra yesterday.

Participants included officials from the Office of the Attorney-General, Office of the Special Prosecutor, Speaker of Parliament, the Ministry for Justice and Attorney-General, Member of the African Union Advisory Board of Corruption and the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC).

Others were from the Ghana Integrity Initiative, Ghana Developing Communities Association (GDCA), and heads of governmental agencies and civil society organisations. 

Relevance

The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Bagbin, in a speech read on his behalf, said the anniversary would offer citizens the chance to reflect on the struggles in the fight against corruption in the country over the years.

He said the ratification of the convention had incorporated some provisions in the country’s anti-corruption initiatives to enhance and direct national anti-corruption efforts.

“It is crucial that Ghana evaluates these accomplishments in order to pinpoint specific challenges that require policy changes and define what further needs to be done to advance anti-corruption practices more properly,” the Speaker added. 

Proposal

The Director of Strategy and Communications of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, Samuel Appiah Darko, advocated a shift of burden of proof in cases of unexplained wealth from the prosecutor or law enforcement agency and the anti-corruption body to the accused to prove their source of wealth.

“As it stands now, we have provisions in the OSP Act that allows us to do lifestyle audits, but by and large, the burden still remains for the prosecutor.

And the possible corruption is between two people who are willing to let you know what has happened,” he said.  

A Senior State Attorney of the Ministry for Justice and Attorney-General Office, Nana Ama Adinkra, said the office was committed to combating corruption through the passage of acts that included the Right to Information Act.

For his part, the GDCA, Alhaji Osman Abdel-Rahman, said addressing corruption required not only policy reforms, but a multifaceted approach through community empowerment and education.

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