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Civil society groups in Ghana have raised red flag over the country’s Special Prosecutor bill, arguing the political independence of the prosecutor to be appointed could be threatened if the mode of appointment as contained in the bill is not revised.
According to the groups, the process under which the special prosecutor would be appointed “is insufficient to cure the challenges of political bias”.
Per the bill which is currently before Parliament, the appointment of the Special Prosecutor will be done by the President on the nomination by the Attorney-General, subject to the approval of Parliament by an absolute majority.
But this process, the groups argue, could compromise the work of the Special Prosecutor, which will primarily be to investigate specific cases of corruption involving public officers, and politically exposed persons in the performance of their functions.
“We believe the current provision is likely to undermine public trust and confidence in the independence of the Office of the Special Prosecutor if not further amended,” the groups who form the Civil Society Organisation Coalition said in a statement Monday.
The Coalition is, therefore, urging the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to make the appointment process for the Special Prosecutor and Deputy Special Prosecutor open and competitive.
It specifically wants the position advertised for Ghanaians in and outside the country to apply for an ad hoc interview panel of individuals with the requisite knowledge and/or experience of the job requirements to be constituted to scrutinise and recommend at least three of the applicants for consideration by the Attorney General.
The panel, the Coalition suggested, should represented by people from the judiciary, the Public Services Commission, traditional authority, religious groups, civil society, professional bodies (accountants and auditors) and the private sector.
“The Attorney General shall select one candidate out of the three shortlisted and forward the name for vetting and approval by majority of members of Parliament present [before] the President then appoints the person,” the Coalition advised. The Coalition has meanwhile pledged its support to the parliament in the effort to pass” a credible Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017”.
It furtherance of that, it has urged both the Majority and Minority members of parliament to continue to debate the bill in a bipartisan manner and in the interest of the people of Ghana.
The bill was submitted to the floor of Parliament on October 17 by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and has since gone through second reading in the House. Parliament last week commenced the consideration stage of the bill.
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