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CHRAJ: Mills must sanction appointees if…

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Commissioner of CHRAJ, Justice Emil ShortThe Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has reminded President Mills of a directive he issued in February for all his appointees to declare their assets within the month and asked him to effect the appropriate sanctions against those who have flouted the order.

On the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day Wednesday, CHRAJ could not put a figure on the number of the President’s appointees who had complied with the directive or had not, but sources at the Auditor-General’s Department confirmed to the Daily Graphic that the names and forms of those who had complied had been forwarded to the Office of the Chief of Staff at the Castle.

According to the sources, only 35 appointees had complied with the directive as of June 2009.

Reacting to the concerns of CHRAJ, which were raised by its Commissioner, Mr Justice Emile Short, the Vice-President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, gave the assurance that government appointees who failed to declare their assets in accordance with the President’s directive would be sanctioned accordingly.

He promised that the Presidency would follow up to ensure that appointees complied with the Presidential directive to give more meaning to the national anti-corruption crusade.

The Vice-President used the occasion of the national commemoration of the global anti-corruption day organised in Ghana on the theme, “corruption, a crime against development, your no counts”, to emphasise some anti-corruption initiatives of the government and further actions to help redress the social canker.

He disclosed that the government was initiating a plea bargaining regime in the country to encourage bribe givers to disclose information on those who received bribes, while a regime for the protection of whistle blowers and their families was being looked at.

He also promised that the increased budgetary allocation to CHRAJ of about 80 per cent over the allocation for the previous year would not be touched in the course of the year.

He said an executive director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had been appointed and its board established, with legislation to strengthen it currently being worked on.

Inaugurating the working group of the National Anti-corruption Action Plan (NACAP) and launching a code of conduct for public officials, Vice-President Mahama endorsed CHRAJ’s lead role in the effort at fighting corruption.

He said the NACAP would provide the basis for judging the efforts of the government and other agencies in the country in the fight, while co-ordinating and targeting the efforts of all in the endeavour.

Justice Short, in his presentation on the State of Corruption in Ghana, stated that there appeared not to have been any significant dividends in the fight during the year.

Increased media reports on allegations of corruption, the results of the 2009 Barometer survey showing that in the last four years there had been very little change in petty bribery in many developing countries, including Ghana, and the score of 3.9 with a ranking of 69th out of 179 countries for Ghana on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of Transparency International (TI) all reinforced the fact that no significant gains had been made.

While commending collective efforts in the anti-corruption drive, he said more needed to be done.

Justice Short unveiled initiatives by CHRAJ in the coming year, saying that a National Integrity Programme to intensify public education on guidelines and a code of conduct for public officials would be embarked on.

Also, an anti-corruption portal would be created, with a toll-free hotline to enable people to make complaints to the commission more easily.

A Deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ, Ms Anna Bossman, who chaired the function, pointed out that the fight against corruption could not be won merely by slogans or good intentions, hence the need for further interventions, such as the code of conduct and the inauguration of a working group on the NACAP.

She also emphasised that collective responses in saying no to corruption were critical in winning the fight.

Members of the working group of the NACAP are Ms Vibeke Gram Mortensen and Mr David Pedley, representing the country’s development partners; Mr Justice A. Y. Tsar, representing the SFO; Mrs Janet Fofie, representing the Public Services Commission; Ms Alice mekudzie and Mr Jonathan Azaaso, representing the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), and Messrs Emmanuel Bandua and Ambrose Dery, representing Parliament.

Others are Justice S. Marful-Sau of the Judicial Service, Dr Nicholas Amponsah and Albert Halligah of the Office of the President, and Messrs Richard Quayson, Charles Ayamdoo and Joe Whittal, representing CHRAJ, with Justice Short as Chair.

Prof Ken Attafuah of the Justice and Human Rights Institute (JHRI), Florence Denise of the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), Vitus Azeem of the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) and Daniel Batidam, an expert on the working group, were the other members inaugurated.

Source: Daily Graphic

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