An anti-corruption crusader, Vitus Azeem, has stated that the establishment of the much talked about Special Prosecutor’s Office would not make any difference in the country’s fight against corruption as has been anticipated by many.
He premised his argument on the appointment processes of the Special Prosecutor as contained in the Special Prosecutor Bill that was passed by Parliament last Tuesday.
Per the Act, 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.
“Initially during the campaign process, they [the New Patriotic Party] were talking about an Independent Public Prosecutor but as we speak it has changed to Special Public Prosecutor it means the person who will be appointed will not be independent,” he said.
Mr Azeem, who is the Executive Director for the Centre for Budget Advocacy, argued that “if the position was advertised, it would help to get a truly independent person to occupy the Office, we have always advocated that if you want an independent person, advertise and get people to apply and train the person.’’
Earlier this month, Civil Society Groups have raised concerns over the appointment processes, contending that the political independence of the prosecutor to be appointed could be threatened if the mode of appointment was 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.”
Former Commissioner of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Emile Short, commenting on the issue, underscored the need for the appointment procedure of the Special Prosecutor as contained in the Act to be reviewed.
He contended that without such revision, there would still be allegations of witch-hunting or criminal prosecutions when the Prosecutor begins its work.
Mr Short held the view that the system of appointment of most of heads of state institutions by the President doesn’t guarantee the independence of those heads of institutions.
“Though it’s done in consultation with the Council of State, it’s the president that appoints about 11 members of the Council of State’’ he stressed.
Meanwhile, prosecutions of public officials alleged to have engaged in corrupt practices will not begin this year as the Special Prosecutor is expected to begin its work next year with a review of all government agreements.
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