Martin Amidu
Martin Amidu (Courtesy photo)

Justice Emile Short, former head of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, has intimated that Ghanaians who feel the special prosecutor is taking too long to begin prosecuting corruption issues expected too much too early.

“I think that Ghanaians were probably expecting too much because they didn’t take into account what it takes to establish an office from scratch and there were heightened expectations about what we are going to realize,” Short said, the Ghanaian Times reported Oct. 12. “When the office is established, you have to do proper investigation before you mount prosecution, you don’t want the Office of the Special Prosecutor to initiate prosecution and fail. It will be demoralizing.”

He was contributing to a discussion on the challenges impeding the Office of the Special Prosecutor from prosecuting corrupt public officials.

Martin Amidu, citizen vigilante and anti-graft campaigner, was appointed last year by the president as the first head of the new anti-corruption agency.

But Short explained that it is “important for Mr. Amidu to have investigators in place if he will succeed at prosecuting corruption cases and important for the public to know the process he has to go through to establish a new institution from the scratch.”

“It is unfortunate that Parliament has taken too long to pass the Legislative Instrument,” he said. “The time prescribed for the subsidiary legislation has elapsed and I don’t quite understand why it hasn’t been done.”

The Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill was put before Parliament in July 2017 and passed in the same year, a move that has been commended by anti-corruption organizations both locally and internationally.

The Office was established to make the attorney-general’s department independent from Executive influence; however, the Office is facing challenges that stifle its ability to begin the prosecution of corruption cases.

For instance, the Legislative Instrument for the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act that was to be laid 90 days after the assumption of office of Amidu has not been passed. The attorney-general’s department has assured it will soon engage Parliament’s Subsidiary Legislation Committee on the bill.

Amidu had cause to complain about his challenges at the National Audit Forum, organized by the Audit Service, saying, “I want the public to understand we have set up an office, organize the office, have the requisite personnel which does not take a day.

Bahamas Among States Elected by UN to Human Rights Council

The Bahamas is among the 18 member states elected Friday by the United Nations General Assembly to its Human Rights Council (HRC), the United Nations body responsible for promoting and protecting all human rights around the globe.

Elected to HRC by secret ballot are Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Czechia, Denmark, Eritrea, Fiji, India, Italy, Philippines, Somalia, Togo and Uruguay, according to a U.N. press release.

All 18 members will serve three-year terms beginning on January 1, 2019. This is the first time a CARICOM country has been elected to the council, and the Bahamas and Fiji are the only two small island developing states (SIDs) elected to serve during this period.

“Newly elected to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council were Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Czechia, Denmark, Eritrea, Fiji, India, Italy, Somalia and Uruguay. The Philippines and Togo were re-elected for an additional term,” according to the release.

Created by the General Assembly in March 2006 as the principal United Nations entity dealing with human rights, the Human Rights Council comprises 47 elected member states.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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