Politics of 2014-07-11

MP calls for powers of prosecution for CHRAJ

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Offinso South, Mr Ben Abdallah Banda, has called for powers of prosecution for the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).

He said the Attorney-General's Department, the only body with the power to carry out prosecutions on behalf of the state, was always inundated with cases and also financially constrained, as well as human resources.

Giving CHRAJ the power to prosecute, in his view, would reduce pressure on the Attorney-General's Department.

Mr Banda was contributing to a debate on the motion to adopt the report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the annual report of CHRAJ for 2010.

The report deals with issues bordering on the mandate of the commission and the discharge of its duties in 2010.

Mr Banda said giving CHRAJ the powers to prosecute would also enable it to discharge its anti-corruption mandate.

The MP for Builsa North, Mr James Agalga, whose contribution to the debate centred mostly on the mandate of CHRAJ, said while the commission might have discharged its human rights and administrative duties quite well, it had failed in the area of anti-corruption.

That failure, he said, stemmed partly from the legal limitations it had encountered in its bid to discharge that particular duty.

For example, he said there had been some decisions handed down by the courts which disabled CHRAJ in its quest to investigate matters bordering on corruption, but on which no complaints had been lodged.

That limitation slapped on CHRAJ by the interpretation of the Constitution by the Judiciary, Mr Agalga said needed to be removed by a constitutional amendment.

"This will enable CHRAJ to act effectively as an anti-corruption agency," he added.

Mr Agalga wondered why CHRAJ, the organisation which had the power to address human rights issues, had failed to order the abolition of witches’ camps in the country.

He said keeping women in a camp based on the allegation that they were witches was a violation of their rights and in contravention of Article 17 of the 1992 Constitution.

The so-called witches’ camps, he said, needed to be closed, and CHRAJ should lead that process.

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