Issues regarding the independence of the proposed Special Prosecutor have been raised, with the Minority NDC Caucus and some Civil Society Organizations questioning why the Prosecutor must take orders from the Attorney-General before acting on cases that would be brought before him or her.
They also questioned why the proposed Special Prosecutor should be answerable or accountable to the Executive, the appointing authority, and not Parliament.
At a stakeholders meeting in Accra organized by the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on Tuesday, the Minority NDC Caucus led by Haruna Iddrisu, proposed that the appointment of the Special Prosecutor by the President of the land should be subjected to the prior approval of Parliament with two-thirds majority vote agreeing on such appointment.
Discussing some of the flaws in the Special Prosecutor Bill in what he termed “The Missing Link” in the Bill; Mr. Iddrisu said the independence of the office of the Special Prosecutor should not be compromised as captured in the long title of the Bill.
The long title of the Special Prosecutor Bill reads “An Act to establish the Office of the Special Prosecutor as a specialized agency to investigate specific cases of corruption involving public officers and politically exposed persons in the performance of their functions as well as persons in the private sector implicated in the commission of corruption, prosecute these offences on the authority of the Attorney-General and provide for related matters.”
“Prosecute these offences on the authority of the Attorney-General? Where then is the independence that you promised? Independence from the Executive as I heard the First Deputy Speaker read from the Manifesto of the NPP, there is want of independence here.
To improve it, we will say that the appointing authority, the President shall appoint the Special Prosecutor a Special Council as it is in other jurisdictions with the prior approval of Parliament and probably with two-thirds majority so that the person is a strong personality who is subject not to just the Executive nomination but prior approval of Parliament,” he noted.
Dissecting the Bill further, Mr. Iddrisu also raised some concerns related to procurement as captured in the document, noting that “we couldn’t agree more with the thinking at that particular level because procurement remains the most veritable source of corruption globally and it is estimated that over US$ 2 to 3 billion is lost within that particular system but when it comes to our purpose, as our contribution to the improve the bill, what about matters of conflict of interest? It should be included in the remit of the Bill.”
Prof. Kwesi Prempeh of the Center for Democratic Development (CDD), on his part also questioned why the office of the Special Prosecutor must be the only office to preside over corruption issues that involve large sums of money.
“We strongly object to the inclusion in this Bill of this Clause 3 sub-clause 4 and we advise that it be deleted in its entirety,” he proposed.
The object of the establishment of the Office of the Prosecutor is to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption and corruption related offences to prevent corruption in the public sector; and to recover the proceeds of corruption and corruption related offences.