General News of Thursday, 27 July 2017
Former Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) Francis Emile Short says it was good the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor’s Bill was withdrawn. He said the problematic Clause 3(4) must be amended “because the language is not clear”.
He is, however, supportive of the Bill, saying its intention as laid out in the 2016 manifesto of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) “was not for the Special Prosecutor to deal with every kind of corruption”. He was speaking on TV3’s Midday Live on Thursday. After the Minority raised concerns in Parliament about the procedure in the laying of the Bill, government withdrew it.
Clause 3(4) states that the Special Prosecutor will not investigate and prosecute corruption offences relating to the Public Procurement Act, 2003 and the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 “…specified under paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of subsection (1) unless the commission of the offence is in respect of a vast quantity of assets that (a) constitute a substantial proportion of the resources of the country; (b) threaten the political stability of the country; or (c) threaten the sustainable development of the country”.
Justice Short explained that other state bodies like CHRAJ, the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and Attorney General’s Department (AGD) will still continue to tackle “lesser” corruption cases.
Last Tuesday, a former Attorney General, Martin Amidu, also called for a second look at the Bill especially the insertion of the Clause 3 & 4.