General News of Sunday, 23 July 2017
Parliament will no more consider the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017, under Certificate of Urgency.
This follows a report by the Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to the plenary recommending that the Bill be allowed to go through the normal legislative procedure since they do not see the urgency of such Bill.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017, was laid in Parliament under a certificate of urgency on Tuesday, July 17, 2017, by the Deputy Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Joseph Dindiok Kpemka on behalf of the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice in accordance with Article 106 of the Constitution.
The Bill was then referred by the Rt. Hon. Speaker, Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye, to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report pursuant to Article 106 of the Constitution and Order 179 of the Standing Orders of the House.
Following the debate as to whether the Bill should be treated under a certificate of urgency, the Rt. Hon. Speaker the Committee to determine the urgency or otherwise of the Bill in accordance with Article 106 (13) of the Constitution and Order 119 of the Standing Orders of the House.
However, at a sitting on Friday, July 21, 2017, Chairman of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Ben Abdallah Banda, told the House that the Committee had considered the Bill as directed by the Rt. Hon. Speaker came to the conclusion that due to the nature of the Bill and the interest it has generated in the public domain, there was the need for time to allow for broader consultations on the subject matter in order to avoid any chaos it may cause.
“The Office of the Special Prosecutor as envisaged in the Bill will transcend different political regimes, hence, the need for the Committee to engage in broader consultations with Civil Society Groups and other key Stakeholders to solicit their inputs.”
“The Committee acknowledges that the Attorney-General’s Office is overburdened in the discharge of its duties and therefore the need to carve out some of its investigative and prosecutorial duties to the proposed Office of the Special Prosecutor. The Committee, however, does not see any vacuum created by the absence of the Office of a Special Prosecutor to warrant the Bill to be treated as urgent,” he noted.
That aside, the cost implication of the Bill on the national budget was also a key factor which informed the decision of the Committee to arrive at that point.