Emile Short: Asset declaration legal regime is weak

General News of Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Source: today Newspaper

Justice Francis Emile Short

A former Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Justice Emile Short laments that Ghana’s “asset declaration legal regime is weak,” saying “it really is just on paper.”

The former CHRAJ boss made this observation on Business Television Association’s (BTA’s) flagship programme; “On the Burner,” at the weekend.

“Declaration of assets needs a complete overhauling since nobody has the responsibility to check the veracity of assets declared. In fact, no one has the responsibility to find out those who are not complying with the obligation to declare and that somebody can make a false declaration and nobody will know,” Emile Short explained.

Commenting on the case of the beleaguered head of CHRAJ, Madam Lauretta Lamptey, Justice Emile Short averred that “it’s unfortunate CHRAJ is embroiled in this controversy because ….it’s not the best for an institution like CHRAJ.

He described this as an “unfortunate episode in the history of CHRAJ.”

According to him, “one would have expected that such allegations would not be associated with an institution like CHRAJ or the chairperson of CHRAJ.”

His comment comes in the wake of a prima facie case against Ms. Lamptey by the Chief Justice and the setting up of a five (5)-member committee to investigate complaints levelled against her in relation to payments made on her rental accommodation to the tune of $203,500.

He therefore likened the entire development to an instance of corruption, which the nation would have to garner all efforts to tackle, stressing that “people (public servants) will have to demonstrate political will to implement whatever activity assigned them and “if they don’t, they should be sanctioned.”

President John Dramani Mahama in reaction to this controversy has suspended the former CHRAJ boss.

This was stated in a press statement from the presidency issued in Accra on Tuesday January 13, 2015 based on the advice of the Judicial Council in pursuant to Article 146 (10) (b) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.

The former boss, however, called for restraint pending the outcome of the committee’s investigations.

Proffering solutions to the institutional lapses ingrained in Ghana’s administrative systems, the former CHRAJ Boss intimated that “to have strong institutions you (the state) have to have strong leaders so the appointment process has to be transparent, consultative in terms of involving a multi-partisan approach.”

That, he claimed “was the only way that you (government) get the most competent people, but if appointment is based on political patronage, friendship nepotism, then we are getting nowhere!” he added.

Justice Emile Short is the first ever legal brain to be appointed head of the then, Ombudsman in 1993.

Following several international duties, he took a break and thus rejoined CHRAJ in 2009, thus retiring in 2010 as one of the most well-acclaimed judges in West Africa and Africa as a whole.