The highly controversial Special Prosecutor Bill has finally been passed by the Parliament. The Bill which seeks to create an Independent Prosecutor’s Office was made an Act of Parliament yesterday evening, Tuesday, November 14, after a much-heated argument in the House.
It was reported that over 30 amendments were made in the various clauses of the Special Prosecutor Bill before the House reached a consensus to approve it. Prominent among the most controversial clauses of the bill was the proposal to grant prosecution immunity to the Special Prosecutor.
While the majority argued that the immunity is necessary for the prosecutor to possess sufficient powers that will enable him or her efficiently discharge his or her duties, the minority insisted it will rather be a violation of the rule of law and will as well make activities of the office malicious and reckless, since there will be no room to seek any kind of redress for unfair judgement.
However, after a marathon deliberation on the issue, the clause was left to stay and the bill passed. That was after it was agreed that the special prosecutor will not be personally liable for the actions of the office, rather the state will be vicariously liable in such cases of unaccepted judgments.
Special Prosecutor’s Office – What for?
Nana Akufo-Addo, ahead of the 2016 general elections vowed to deal with corruption like no other if he becomes President of the Republic of Ghana. This he said he will do using a Special and Independent Prosecutor. The Prosecutor Office which will be independent of the Executive and the Attorney General’s Office, will be mandated by law to investigate and prosecute corruption allegations among past and present government officials.
Akufo-Addo has severally explained that it is only an office devoid of political influence that can properly deal with issues of corruption in Ghana. According to the President, his major aim is to take politics out of the fight against corruption, pointing out that he never has any intention of going after only his political opponents in the name of fighting corruption, hence his decision to use an Independent Prosecutor.
Duties of the Special Prosecutor
Per the bill passed by the Parliament, the Special Prosecutor’s Office has been given the legal backing to handle only corruption/criminal issues involving vast quantity of assets which threaten political stability or sustainable development of the country.
The office has also been legally mandated to receive referrals from other investigative bodies, to seize tainted properties by court orders as well as subsequent confiscation of such properties to the state after conviction.
Who will be Appointed to the Office?
As the Parliament has now passed the Special Prosecutor Bill into law, it remains for President Akufo-Addo and his government to appoint someone who will head the office. Meanwhile, sufficient provisions have been made in the Bill for the appointment of a highly competent person as the Special Prosecutor.
Moreover, Nana Addo had earlier expressed confidence in the ability of his administration to appoint the right person to occupy the all-important position. According to him, it must be “someone who commands the respect of the society, and at the same time has an independent mind to make the decisions”.