General News of Sunday, 24 December 2017
A former boss of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) is adopting a wait and see attitude on the performance of the yet to be appointed Special Prosecutor before passing judgment.
Emile Short, however, believes the money expended in the setting up of the Special Prosecutor’s office could have been used to strengthen the Attorney General’s Department until such a time the country is ready to decouple the Justice Ministry from that of the Attorney General’s office.
He was speaking on Joy FM’s news analysis programme Newsfile, Saturday.
The Bill on the Special Prosecutor’s Office has finally been passed by Parliament after the initial political drama and controversy.
It was a campaign promise by the NPP to institute an independent prosecutor’s office to take away the power of prosecution from the Attorney General and give it to the Independent Prosecutor.
This, the NPP government believes will solve the allegations of witch hunting that have long attended public prosecutions in Ghana.
On Saturday, the Independent Prosecutor controversy found space and expression on Newsfile once again.
In what seemed to be a star-studded appearance which had the Auditor General Daniel Domelevo, legal practitioner Ace Ankomah, and former Attorney General Dominic Ayine all sitting, the former CHRAJ boss did not appear to be in full support of the creation of the office of the Special Prosecutor.
He said he was initially in “favour” of the whole concept of the Special Prosecutor’s office but with recent developments, including the content of the Bill, and the misgivings raised by the Minority he began “to wonder whether the whole exercise was necessary.”
“When you consider the amount of investment that is going to be made to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, I am beginning to wonder whether that could not have been invested in strengthening the Attorney General’s office which is already under-staffed and they are not happy with the conditions of service.”
“…Until such time as we can amend the constitution to provide for an independent public prosecutor and have the minister of Justice to be the legal advisor to the government, this halfway house the NPP government has adopted [may be problematic]” he hinted but was quick to add that time will be a better judge on whether the office will play its role well or not.
“I have been wondering whether it is a misdirection of resources which we don’t have” he stated.
He said it was gratifying to see the Attorney General going to court to prosecute the alleged case of corruption by former NCA officials.
He wondered why the AG and the Director of Public Prosecution have not taken up cases like that and are rather waiting for the Special Prosecutor’s Office to be created first.
“I guess it is a campaign promise so it has to go through but I want to suspend judgment [on the office] and see how it evolves.”
But a private legal practitioner Ace Ankomah is convinced there will be harmony and better prosecutions if the same institution like the office of the Special Prosecutor were to conduct investigation and prosecution at the same time.
Under the current regime, the Attorney General must prosecute but it is the police that conduct investigation, a situation which he said has hampered public prosecutions in many ways.