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CSOs race against time to cause last minute changes to Special Prosecutor Bill

Civil society bodies in governance and anti corruption have expressed reservations with portions of the Special Prosecutor’s bill which is currently in its consideration stage on the floor of Parliament.

The bodies include the Ghana Anti corruption coalition, the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) and Parliamentary News Africa.

The groups organized a consultative forum on Thursday in the Ashanti regional capital Kumasi at the GNAT Hall where extensive education on the special Independent Prosecutors Bill was done in the local language.

The forum which was funded by the Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA) brought together civil society bodies, interest groups, traditional leaders and political party executives from the Brong Ahafo and the Ashanti Regions.

There were heated exchanges and concerns from the participants especially about how independent the Special Prosecutor will be; with the current arrangement in the bill.

Another concern that was expressed by the participants was the possibility of a duplication of the mandates of already existing institutions.

A 2016 Parliamentary candidate for the Progressive Peoples Party (PPP) Bertrin Abena Britwum, said, “It is on paper that they are going to be made independent but in reality if you have staff appointed by the government then where is the independence of this prosecutor?’

A participant from Obuasi Frank Benyansa was bothered, “As it stands now the Attorney General’s office handles every issue and we still see government officials engaging in acts of corruption and going scot-free because who takes them on?. The office of the Special Prosecutor is just duplication’.

The Executive Secretary of the Ghana Anti-corruption Coalition, Beauty Emefa Narteh who sided with some of the concerns told Ultimate News, civil society has submitted to Parliament; a list of suggestions that could address some of the challenges the bill might face.

This she said includes a proposal for the office of the special prosecutor to be opened for any qualified Ghanaian to apply and interviewed for.

“We proposed that the appointment should be opened to every Ghanaian home or abroad who is qualified for that position to apply and be interviewed by a committee. This committee can select three people for nomination and consideration by the Attorney General and after that the process of Parliament approval and accent by the President Akufo-Addo can go on,” she suggested.

Executive Director of the Parliamentary News Africa; Samuel Obeng pointed out that it was not too late to champion a course to have the voices of the people heard as Parliament goes through the consideration stage of the Independent Special Prosecutor Bill.

“At the consideration stage, every Member of Parliament can make a proposal for an amendment or an addition to the bill. As far as we all have MPs in our constituencies, if there is anything that I have concerns about, I should be able to even write open letters to my MP. As civil society groups, we will publish it in our Newspapers and make sure that it gets to the MP in his pigeon hole or in his job six hundred office in Parliament for him to see what his people have said,” Samuel noted.

Meanwhile, the civil society groups championing these regional sensitization tours would have to speed up their work as Parliament has already gone through a number of clauses of the 57 clauses; pending its passage into law.


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