VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings dated 25th October, 2017. Page 1…11 --
Mr Speaker, I am sorry I could not catch your eye.
Hon Member, please, continue. Speak on both day and date.
I am sorry, Mr Speaker -- [Laughter.]
Page 12 --
Yes, Hon Dr Akoto Osei?
Mr Speaker, on page 12, paragraph 12, the amendment I made was completely misquoted. In fact, the most important words have been left out. It should be “at least five”. I did not just say “five”. Otherwise, the change would not make any sense.
Thank you very much. The correction should be effected accordingly. Page 13 --
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation should clarify his comment on page 12. What is reported was to “delete ‘eight' and insert ‘five'”. We have to go to the Bill and see whether the words, “at least” preceded it. If that is the case, we should be clear on the amendment he proposed. This is because it was to delete “eight” and insert “five”.
Mr Speaker, but I am quite clear in my mind. The Bill just had eight and I said it was completely incorrect. Long-term is at least five years or more. So, if you just replace eight with five, all you just want to say is that long- term is defined to be five years, which does not make sense. So, you need “at least five years”. The Bill did not have at least eight.
Hon Minority Leader are you agreeable?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader is helping us; he has reference to the Bill. If we can hear him, then I would be well guided.
Shall we move forward and come back upon that verification? Is it being done readily? Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, in the Bill, and in the Interpretation clause, that is, clause 32, it provides: ‘Long term plan' means a plan with eight years' duration” And we are being told by the Hon Member for Old Tafo that he called for the deletion of ‘eight' and the insertion of ‘at least five' which then would make it read: “Long term plan means a plan with at least five years' duration”. That was what he said.
Very well, I may proceed. Page 14 - 18. Mr Edward Kaale-ewola Dery -- rose
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, yesterday, I raised concern about the naming of the constituency; Lambussie and Lambussie-Karni. And I talked about the inconsistency these things have been — if you look at 12th October, 2017, it is Lambussie-Karni. On 17TH October, 2017, it is Lambussie. Yesterday, I complained that it was Lambussie Karni. Today, it is Lambussie. Mr Speaker, I am taking this seriously because this was as a result of the High Court decision and as a matter of fact, I have furnished the Table Office with all the documentations. You cannot continue to put things that we cannot even tell. Which constituency do I belong to? Is it Lambussie or Lambussie-Karni? Mr Speaker, just yesterday, I complained and today, it is the reverse. The naming of the constituency as it is today, is Lambussie and not Lambussie- Karni. That was the decision of the High Court and we cannot continue to do things differently. Mr Speaker, there are several of them. I f w e a r e t a l k i n g o f t h e Votes and Proceedings of 25th October, 2017, page 4, item numbered 104, Mr Speaker, you would see that it is Lambussie-Karni but, if you go back to Votes and Proceedings of 24th October, 2017, on the the same page, it is Lambussie. I am talking about inconsistency. The name should be maintained as Lambussie and not Lambussie-Karni.
Thank you very much. The Table Office should note accordingly. Hon Dr A. A. Osei?
Mr Speaker, I am a bit confused. We are way past the page he is talking about. You called page 17 and there is no mistake on page 17. If he wants to take us back, he should seek permission. He cannot just get up and say — Mr Speaker, do not know what the Hon Member was saying. I was looking at page 17 --[Interruption]-- Mr Speaker, there is a procedure in this House and we must follow the procedure. -- [Interruption.]
Order! Page 19 —
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, thank you for your indulgence, and I wish to remind the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation that he is not Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker entertained the Hon Member who is passionate about the name of the constituency. Mr Speaker, I have followed the records with the former Minister for Local Government and Rural Development. This is a matter which was even brought to the attention of the court and there was a ruling on the matter, which has to be accompanied with an Instrument to this House. I assume that that Instrument has not come before this House. So, the Table Office would be right are right to use the appropriate nomenclature they had from the Electoral Commission of Ghana and he should accommodate same until we have the Instrument here and the constituency would be designated properly per the ruling of the court. Thank you.
Thank you. Page 19-28. Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 25th October, 2017, as corrected, is hereby adopted as true record of proceedings. Item numbered 3, Hon Minister for Communications to answer a few Questions. Is the Hon Minister for Communica- tions present?
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, if I could seek your leave, the Appointments Committee is currently sitting and the Hon Minister for Communications is a member. We have the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Chamber now. So, if I could indulge you to take Questions numbered 163 and 164 while we get Hon Owusu- Ekuful into the Chamber from the Appointments Committee. So, Hon Okudzeto could ask Questions numbered 163 and 164 so that the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs could take leave of us, while we wait for the Minister for Communications to get into the Chamber. Thank you.
Question numbered 163. Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs, you may please take the appropriate seat. Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa?
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful. Mr Speaker, I would want to thank the Hon Minister for her comprehensive response. My first supplementary question has to do with the second paragraph of the Answer. The Hon Minister states that quite a few have succeeded in acquiring Ghanaian passports through dubious means. I would like to find out from the Hon Minister if there is some idea on how many of our passports are in the wrong hands? Do we have some estimates at this point?
Mr Speaker, my second supplementary question. The Hon Minister has focused on acquisition of Ghanaian passports in Ghana. We know that Ghanaian passports are also issued outside Ghana. Could the Hon Minister shed some light on the processes and tell us if we are paying attention to that aspect as well. This is because we sometimes hear that some foreigners living in other jurisdictions are able to acquire Ghanaian passports.
Mr Speaker, in the second paragraph on page 8, the Hon Minister pointed to some review which has begun on the Passport and Travel Certificates Law. Mr Speaker, I would want to know if the Hon Minister could provide this House with some timelines that she is working with when she believes that this House could receive the work that she has started, so that this Parliament would amend the Passport and Travel Certificates Law as the Ministry has initiated.
Mr Speaker, we all know that some passports are issued outside the country, but even then, reference would be made to the Ghanaian authority in Ghana. Mr Speaker, every Ghanaian comes from a constituency and I would want to know if the Hon Minister could consider involving Hon Members in the process of the acquisition of the passport in this country.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer, she indicated that one of the means to ascertain the citizenship or otherwise of a prospective applicant is to take the applicant through rigorous physical verification.
Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would want to quote the last sentence of paragraph 6 of the Hon Minister's Answer where she indicated that: “This is done to serve as a deterrent to others who may want to engage in such a nefarious activity. Currently there are about four (4) individuals at various stages of prosecution at the Courts”. Mr Speaker, this clearly refers to the instances where foreigners find ways to procure and use Ghanaian passports. Mr Speaker, I would want to know from the Hon Minister what has been done to the Ghanaian collaborators of these foreigners. As we know, definitely, one must provide a birth certificate, an old passport and also guarantors to guarantee on the passport application form. Mr Speaker, I would want to know what has happened to the Ghanaian colla- borators who acted against the laws of our land in facilitating the obtaining of Ghanaian passports by the foreigners who have currently been prosecuted.
I would take the final question from Hon Members.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I would want to thank the Hon Minister for --
Hon Member, please, be seated. I do not blame you because you cannot see behind you.
Mr Speaker, my question is on the Answer which was provided by the Hon Minister, at page 7 of the Order Paper. Mr Speaker, she alluded to the fact that some officers may connive with foreigners to apply for Ghanaian passports. I would want to find out from her, how many officers are currently before the various courts for trial in respect of the acquisition of the Ghanaian passport?
Hon Buah, you may ask your question.
Mr Speaker, we are at the core of some of the challenges of the issuance of passports and she alluded to it, especially the malpractices that have to do with the difficulty of Ghanaian citizens acquiring passports and the length of time that it sometimes takes. Can the Hon Minister brief us on the plans to decentralise it at the district level?
Mr Speaker, with respect, this question does not emanate from the original Question. Our rules are very clear on this.
“As soon as a Question is answered in the House any Member beginning with the Member who asked the Question may, without notice, ask a supplementary Question for the further elucidation of any matter of fact regarding which the answer has been given, but a supplementary Question must not be used to introduce matter not included in the Orginal Question.” Mr Speaker, the Original Question has nothing to do with the question that the Hon Member is posing. Mr Speaker, if you may rule it out of order, we would move on.
Hon Member, are you inclined towards reframing your question? Minority Leadership, any question? Any question from the Majority Leadership? Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, you may ask your second Question. Revision of diplomatic courtesies to Ghana's former Presidents and other Ghanaian officials Q. 64. Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether the Ministry was aware of any revisions by other countries of their diplomatic courtesies extended to Ghana's former Presidents and other deserving Ghanaian officials.
Mr Speaker, I have a genuine difficulty with the format of this particular response. In the first paragraph, the Hon Minister leaves out the name of the embassy and the country in question, but in the second paragraph, when it comes to the British High Commission, that is mentioned. I honestly do not know what is preventing the Parliament of Ghana from knowing the particular embassy in question with regards to the first paragraph.
“There were reports of a particular embassy in Accra having commu- nicated such revisions but following a meeting with the Ambassador of the said embassy he indicated that he did not make those comments and confirmed that former Presidents and deserving Ghanaians were still availed of such courtesies.” But in the following paragraph, the Hon Minister says, “The Ministry had reports also from the British High Commission” So, if we are leaving out names, let us leave out all the names. Let us not create the impression that some countries are sacrosanct. Mr Speaker, my question is, can we know the country and the name of the embassy, just as we did for the British? Can we do same in the first paragraph and know which country is being referred to.
Hon Ablakwa, you want names of countries to be mentioned beyond the original Question?
Mr Speaker, I am just asking for consistency. In the second paragraph, the British High Commission is mentioned, but in the first paragraph, we are only told of a said embassy. There is some secrecy about that. And I am wondering why we have different strokes for different folks. Can we have the same principle?
Is it a follow-up to your question numbered 164?
Mr Speaker, yes please. The first follow-up question — Can we know which country is involved in the first paragraph — the said embassy and the said Ambassador, just as we have been provided information from the British High Commission. Can we know which countries are being referred to in the first paragraph?
Your supplementary question is not directly coming out of the original Question. A Minister may volunteer information, which the Minister need not necessarily give in answering the Question. Maybe, the Hon Minister thinks it is not injurious to enter into that arena. It does not mean that the Hon Minister is then going to give us a whole list of the names of other countries in a manner that may be prejudicial. That discretion lies with the Hon Minister. That question would not be allowed. Can you ask other questions?
Mr Speaker, my next question would be i\on the second paragraph of page 8. The Hon Minister says that per her engagement with the British High Commission, she has been asked to provide feedback on how the arrangements are. Mr Speaker, I would want to find out if the Hon Minister has checked with the offices of the three former Presidents that we have and other eligible Very Important Persons (VIPs), Members of Parliament, et cetera, on what the current status of application is, so far as the arrangement that has been agreed on with the British High Commission is concerned.
Hon Ablakwa, it is important to be specific on such occasions. In fact, I was just wondering whether the question is not actually essentially speculative.
Mr Speaker, we will, and when I say we, I mean the Committee on Foreign Affairs would engage with the Hon Minister. This is because we have some specific instances, but I do not believe that this forum should be used at this point.
Hon Member, that was why I used the word “speculative”. It is not before us. So, please ask your last question.
Mr Speaker, my final question has to do with a letter which became public, and which was issued by the former High Commissioner. This letter is not a speculation but an actual letter which was written to the Rt Hon Speaker of Parliament --
Hon Member, copies of which you have and regarding which you have given the Hon Minister notice of?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister has made references to that in the second paragraph of her response. The former High Commissioner, Mr Jon Benjamin had indicated --
Hon Member, please read the exact section you intend to rely on -- the second paragraph of the Answer, to wit.
Mr Speaker, the second paragraph of the Answer reads: “The Ministry had reports also from the British High Commission and have since met with the officials and conveyed concerns received on their visa application processes. The High Commission has also assured the Ministry that a number of
Hon Member, matters relating to courtesies extended to Hon Members of Parliament and your reference to these privileges being withdrawn cannot be the subject matter of discussion here today. They have been handled very diplomatically and the Hon Minister would not answer this question which does not in anyway directly flow from the original Question. Any other questions?
Hon Member, you have had three chances. Yes, any other question?
Mr Speaker, in the very last paragraph of the Hon Minister's Answer, she says that: “For a number of those countries, such services are granted upon request and some for a fee.” Can the Hon Minister explain the type of services that are provided for a fee and the countries which do that?
Hon Member, I did not get the question. Can you repeat it?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister got it.
No! I must also know what the question is. I handle the debate.
Mr Speaker, I would repeat the question.
Please, go on.
Mr Speaker, in the Hon Minister's Answer, where she referred to the services that are provided to former Presidents. She had explained that, and Mr Speaker, with your permission I quote; “For a number of those countries, such services are granted upon request and some for a fee.” I would want the Hon Minister to explain the services that are provided for a fee.
Let us now move to Leadership.
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister why she did not want to mention the name of a particular embassy in the first paragraph. Is there any reason why she did not want to disclose the name of that embassy?
Hon Member, that is equally speculative; you may ask another question. [Pause.] Hon Majority Leader, how are we proceeding with other Questions?
Mr Speaker, some Questions have been asked of the Hon Minister responsible for Communica- tions. But the Ministry indicated that the Answers are not ready yet. So, at the Business Committee, we have re- programmed the Hon Minister for Communications to appear next week Wednesday to answer those Questions. Mr Speaker, in view of that, I believe we can now proceed to item numbered 5 on the Order Paper.
Hon Members, at the Commencement of Public Business; Item numbered 5 on the Order Paper -- Presentation of Papers.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation is the Hon Mahama Ayariga. I am informed that he intimated yesterday that the Reports are ready. If we can have confirmation, then the Papers could be laid on behalf of the Chairman by any Member of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation.
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, we have no problem with that. Any Member of the Committee could lay the Paper. Mr Speaker, but on the matter relating to the Hon Minister for Communications, it is not enough to say that the Answers are not ready. The Hon Majority Leader must indicate to this House when the Hon Minister for Communications would respond to those Questions with the appropriate Answers. It is important. We cannot just let her go without finding out when she is coming back to this House to respond to Questions from Hon Members. Mr Speaker, on the issue of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation, any Member of the Committee can, with the leave of Mr Speaker, lay the Paper. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, for the avoidance of doubt and I wish the Hon Minority Leader was listening. I made a point, that the Business Committee had programmed for the Hon Minister to appear before us on Wednesday to answer those Questions. It appears that unfortunately, the attention of the Hon Minority Leader was engaged elsewhere -- that was what I said. [Pause.]
Who is presenting the Paper? [Pause.]
Mr Speaker, with the confirmation from the Committee Members, the Hon Ranking Member is in the person of Mr Yaw Buaben Asamoa, the Hon Member for Adentan is here and can lay the Paper.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Adentan is here and ready to lay the documents; that is the item numbered 5 on the Order Paper. Mr Speaker, Item numbered 5(i).
Item numbered 6 on the Order Paper -- Zongo Development Fund Bill, 2017. Hon Minister for Inner-City and Zongo Development.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister is rushing to the House from a meeting that he was holding, but because it involves just the First Reading. I would want to seek your leave and the indulgence of my Hon Colleagues for the Hon Minister for Youth and Sports to lay the document on behalf of the Hon Minister for Inner-City and Zongo Development.
BILLS -- FIRST READING
Item numbered 7 on the Order Paper -- Motion. Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is in the House with us, so, she would lead the discussion on the Motion listed as item numbered 7 on the Order Paper.
Hon Majority Leader, I did not get you. How are we proceeding with this Motion, which stands in the name of the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is right here with us. So, she would lead the transaction of business on that Motion listed as item numbered 7 on the Order Paper.
Very well. Hon Learned Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, you may move the Motion accordingly.
BILLS -- SECOND READING
Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, thank you very much. Question proposed Hon Chairman of the Committee? Hon Chairman of the Committee (Mr Ben A. Banda): Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion ably moved by the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Ms Gloria Akuffo. Mr Speaker, in so doing, I respectfully present your Committee's Report on the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, and the proposed amendments contained in the document marked as Appendix A. Introduction The Office of Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017 was laid-in Parliament on Monday, 31st July, 2017 by the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Hon Gloria Akuffo, for passage in accordance with srticle 106 of the 1992 Constitution. Consequently, the Bill was referred by Mr Speaker to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report,
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Report of the Committee and to contribute to the debate relating to the establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, particularly on a comment in the Report which has been presented to the House. Mr Speaker, as said by the Hon Chairman of the Committee, the Bill merited the normal legislative process, and it is important to commend members of the Committee for arriving at a decision to take this important Bill through the normal legislative process. Mr Speaker, indeed, I also take cognisance of the fact that Mr Speaker had earlier cautioned, that in considering the provisions of the Bill, and in the establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, one must hasten slowly. In fact, that guided the Committee in arriving at a decision that the Bill be taken through the normal legislative process. Mr Speaker, it was quite revealing when we organised the stakeholder conference. Many stakeholders showed interest, and many views were expressed, which would substantially -- Mr Speaker, amendments were proffered at Koforidua when we met to consider the clause by clause provisions of the Bill, and I am sure the views of the stakeholders would find space in the amendments which were proffered. But, Mr Speaker, we still have to overcome the most important obstacle that we have all been talking about, particularly, article 88(3) and (4). Particularly, in article 88(3), when the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice moved the Motion for the Second Reading of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017, she quoted from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Manifesto of 2016. She did not say it explicitly; I should have quoted her, but she quoted a provision in the NPP Manifesto, particularly, at page 147, which deals with institutional reform and which talks about the establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, and particularly where it is said, and I quote: “The monopoly of prosecutorial authority by an Attorney-General, who is hired and fired by the President, has been singled out by governance experts as one of the key factors that stand in the way of using law enforcement and prosecution as a credible tool in the fight against corruption.” Mr Speaker, the Bill would not overreach the monopoly of the prosecutorial powers of the Attorney- General and Minister for Justice. The Bill is not in anyway -- And when an attempt is made to overreach the monopoly because there is an exclusive prosecu- torial authority vested in the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice in article 88(3). To dilute that monopoly of power would not require a law in Parliament; it would require a constitutional amendment. Mr Speaker, that is why in fashioning out and designing the provisions of the Bill, we have looked at how we could ensure, firstly, operational independence of the Special Prosecutor, secondly, the financial independence of the Special Prosecutor, and thirdly, the structural independence of the Special Prosecutor. But we are all ad idem, that the Special Prosecutor would exercise powers conferred on him or her by the Attorney- General and Minister for Justice. That is why we have said that the provision in the Bill that seeks to legislatively delegate power to the Special Prosecutor would be unconstitutional, and we have proffered amendmentws thats to that. The Hon Majority Leader was very vociferous by not doing anything that would appear to circumscribe the power of the Attorney- General.
Hon Members, for the avoidance of doubt, we have agreed on five contributors each from each side of the House for five minutes, and the Leaders would have 15 minutes. That means half an hour from each side, exclusive of the Leaders who would have 15 minutes each.
Mr Speaker, we would be guided by you. However, as you might recall, at the pre-sitting meeting, I made a strong application for ten minutes when you said we should dedicate an hour. I also added that it was such an important policy Bill, therefore, we should tolerate as much debate as possible. So, I would still plead with you that other Hon Members be allowed 10 minutes, then Leadership could be given 15 minutes. Mr Speaker, it is at the bid of the exercise of public trust, and there is a lot of public interest in the Bill, including international interest. And this is the House of debate as you have repeatedly said. Let us debate the principles and the policy and let us see how we would work to improve it. So, I indulge you to accommodate my Hon Ranking Member. Five minutes would not be adequate, especially for the Hon Ranking Member, if they could do 10 minutes each.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, unfortunately, I could not be with the Hon Minority Leader at the pre sitting meeting, so, I do not know the application he submitted. Suffice it to say that if the Hon Minority Leader makes an application, it cannot be considered the rule. When he makes an application, it does not necessarily mean that it is the rule. Mr Speaker, but I agree with him that this is a very important policy document of government and we must ensure that we provide sufficient vent for it.
Hon Ranking Member, you have 10 minutes. Other Hon Members have five (5) minutes and Hon Leaders have fifteen (15) minutes so that when the balance is done, everybody will know. Yes, Hon Ranking Member, five more minutes?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Very well, Mr Speaker. As I was saying, it is an attempt to establish an office that would prosecute corruption and its related offences, and also offences committed pursuant to the breaches of the Public Procurement Law and other offences that are prejudicate to corruption. Mr Speaker, in doing so, it is important that the integrity, reputation and independence of the office must be enshrined in law. That is why we believe that we need to proffer some amendments to clause 12 of the Bill, which seeks to provide that the Attorney-General nominates a person for the Office of the Special Prosecutor. That person is approved by Parliament and that person is then appointed by the President. Mr Speaker, it is that last lap of the appointment that brings us squarely within the NPP Manifesto which seeks to establish this office. This is because the Manifesto states that in the event that the Attorney-General is hired and fired by the President -- So, why do we make the President responsible for the appointment of the Special Prosecutor? The Manifesto already admits that when a person is hired and fired, he or she might be incapacitated -- might be impotent -- in prosecuting corruption cases. Mr Speaker, in any case, we seriously believe that when the office is established, it should not be subject to the direction and control of anybody, except as provided by the Constitution. The Constitution reposes power in the Attorney-General for the initiation and conduct of criminal cases. So, we believe that it is only the Attorney-General who might -- That is why we are not talking about the establishment of an independent prosecutor -- We are talking about the establishment of a Special Prosecutor. We admit that such a person would be under the directions and control of the Attorney-General. He or she would prosecute pursuant to article 88 (4) by fiat of the Attorney-General. Mr Speaker, when we talk about fiat of the Attorney-General, that is where we think that this law ought not to have come at all, except that the Attorney-General has decided that it should come. Mr Speaker, under the Criminal and other Offences Procedure Act and under the Law Officers Act, the Attorney- General has power to appoint ad hoc special prosecutors; she has that power. So, why do we make a law for the appointment of a person who already can be appointed by the Attorney-General? Mr Speaker, because we are trying to create a novelty, reading the Bill, we would also realise that we are importing Company Law principles into the establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor. That is why we catered for a Board provided in the law, that the Special Prosecutor would not be subject to the control and directions of anybody, but establish a Board to which the Special Prosecutor would report to. Mr Speaker, amendments have been proffered to ensure that the Board becomes a coordinating one only. If the Board is being conceived as provided in the Bill, as one that superintends the activities of the Special Prosecutor, that not only the Special Prosecutor would be subject to the control and directions of the Attorney-General, but he or she would also be subject to the directions and control of the Board. Mr Speaker, we are looking at the possibility of designing and fashioning the Bill to ensure that the Board becomes only a coordination one. Mr Speaker, finally, I think that we should support the Bill. We know that we will continue to raise issues. We believe that we need to fight corruption and do so in a very determined way. In order to do that we also need to insulate that Special Prosecutor. That is why the American Embassy, in writing to us, said that Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to quote: “Our foremost recommendation is that the OSP be seen to be free of political influences and inter- ference.”
Mr Speaker, “Specifically, the appointment of the Special Prosecutor should be subject to a transparent, compe- titive, shortlisting process that includes ample scrutiny by Parliament and civil society.”
Hon Boaben Asamoa? Hon Majority Leader, do we have any difficulty?
Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the floor. Mr Speaker, I would want to first look at the rationale and object of the Bill as captured in the Report of the Committee. Mr Speaker, this country has facilitated between quasi -- judicial measures, commissions of enquiry to draconian authoritative measures, where people have been shot out of hand without trial for corruption and to the point where we have come back to adversarial means following common law principles; rule of law. All of these have proved inadequate. SPACE FOR EMBASSY LETTER - PAGE 8 - 2.40 P.M.
“All offences prosecuted in the name of the Republic of Ghana shall be at the suit of the Attorney- General or any other person authorised by him in accordance with any law.” Mr Speaker, therefore if this law is passed, to give the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice the opportunity to authorise any other person, in this case the Office of the Special Prosecutor -- using Parliament's power to pass a law, I do not believe there is any this office can exercise investigative and prosecutorial power. Mr Speaker, indeed, we need to pass a law, notwithstanding the previous opportunity for the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice to appoint the counsel, because that is insecure. Mr Speaker, secondly, this law combines investigative and prosecutorial authority with independence -- that is the bone of fighting corruption in this country. Mr Speaker, with the belief that no corruption fighter is independent, this law would entrench the Special Prosecutor's office, and make the Special Prosecutor, whether it is a male or female, independent of the forces that would otherwise drag the fight back.
General's Office is perennial
Hon Member, you should be concluding.
Mr Speaker, in the days of 1957, there was a dispute about whether the office of the Attorney-General should be separate or otherwise, and if one reads the submission of the then Leader of Government Business, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, when he was proposing the constitutional amendments before 1957 in the Chamber, on 12th November 1956 to be exact, mentioned this fact, that there was a difficulty about how to position the Attorney-General to be truly independent. Mr Speaker, by 1960, though we had started with a civil servant Attorney- General in 1957, 1960 had the Attorney- General as a full blooded politician. The year 1969 then brought in the issue of responsibility or the right to enable other persons to prosecute on their behalf --
Yes, Hon Dominic Ayine?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the Second Reading of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017. Mr Speaker, I would want to begin by commending the Hon Chairman of the Committee for his sense of fairness and balance. This is a very contentious Bill, and it was the Hon Chairman's sense of fairness and balance that made it possible for us to produce a Report in which the Minority did not dissent. Mr Speaker, it bears repeating agnosia that we in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) are committed to the fight against corruption and that we support this Bill. We are committed to the fight against corruption. Mr Speaker, we are the party of probity and accountability. [Hear! Hear!]. We are the party of social justice and there is no reason under the sun, and in the name of God, why we would oppose this Bill. So, we support the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice in this Bill. Mr Speaker, when the Bill came before this House, initially, there were a number of Constitutional issues that were raised. In fact, with due deference to the Attorney- General and Minister for Justice, one could actually drive a truck load of constitutional issues through the Bill. Mr Speaker, if we look at page 6 of the Report, it is very clear that the Committee has admitted that clause 4 (2) of the Bill was inconsistent with the Constitution, and therefore, we have proposed a rendition that would tally or comply with the powers of the Attorney-General in particular, under article 88, (4), of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana. I believe that the Committee must be commended for that. Mr Speaker, I am sure that when we come to the Consideration Stage, there would be issues on whether the current rendition saves the Bill from being dead on arrival, but we would leave that to the Consideration Stage. Mr Speaker, another critical constitu- Constitional road block that was contained in the Bill was the attempt to penalise the right of an accused person to remain silent. There was a provision in the Bill to the effect that a person under investigation or a person who was charged with a crime under the Bill could not refuse to disclose information. Therefore, it was pointed out that under article 19 of the Constitution of the Republic, every citizen charged with an offence had the right to remain silent. That is what the Americans call the right to take the Fifth Amendments. It was proposed that, that particular provision on disclosure should be taken out. Mr Speaker, it points out that in modern jurisprudence, it is the duty of the prosecution to disclose materials that are relevant to the prosecution of the case. In fact, the House of Lords held in the case of R.v. H. v C, which was recorded in 2004 House of Lords page five and with your permission, it says in the words of Lord Birmingham, and to quote his exact words, he says: “Fairness ordinarily requires that any material held by the prosecution which weakens its case or strengthens that of the defendant should be disclosed to the defense. Bitter experiences have shown that miscarriages of justice may occur when such materials are withheld from disclosure. The golden rule is that full disclosure of such materials should be made available.”
Mr Speaker, this is the state of the law as stated in the House of Lords decision in R. v H. v C, which I have just cited. Mr Speaker, most of the corruption offences listed in this Bill are misdemeanors, except the one relating to section 179 (c), which is in relation to deriving private benefit from a public office. Mr Speaker, if we are committed to the fight against corruption, then why are we not creating new offences that are more punitive than misdemeanors? Why are we simply taking offences under the Criminal Offences Act and listing them under the Bill, saying that persons who commit those offences would be prosecuted accordingly?
Hon Member, you should be concluding.
Yes, Mr Speaker, I am mindful of the time, but I would want to underscore one critical point. Mr Speaker, is there an animal known to the law such as “corruption related offences”? Are we creating a new category of offences known as “corruption related offences”? That is something that we would need to bear in mind. Mr Speaker, I am sure that when it comes to the Consideration Stage, we would be looking at the legal and technical matters that have arisen in this Bill. I would want to conclude by saying that in 2016, Transparency International ranked Ghana number 43 on the corruption perception index --
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise to support the Motion that is ably moved by the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice on the Bill before this House, which is the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017. Mr Speaker, there are a number of laws and institutions in the country that seek to address the menace in the society; namely corruption and corruption related cases. We have the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and other institutions. There are even institutions which could have investigative powers but would not have the powers of prosecution. Mr Speaker, it is in the light of this that the President of the Republic has proposed this Bill which is before the House. Mr Speaker, in this Bill, the Attorney-General is to nominate a person to occupy this office. This person, who is to be nominated and appointed by the President, would have the powers of the Court of Appeal Judge. In order to make sure that the person to occupy the office administers his or her duties diligently, powers have been given to the person. The powers of police to arrest and to apply to the court for warrants to be issued for searches when it becomes necessary. Mr Speaker, further, this Office is to collaborate with the existing institutions that the Constitution and other laws allow for the fight of corruption and corruption related offences. As part of the tool, the law-maker had proposed that this office must be independent. There are other clauses in this Bill to ensure that the Office of the Special Prosecutor is independent. There is a Board that is created by this, and the Board is to formulate policies for the achievement of the objects of the Bill. The Board Members are enjoined to disclose their interests when matters come before them and if they have any relation whatsoever. Failure to do that, there would be punishments that would go with that, inclusive of the fact that the person may even forfeit the position that is granted him or her. Mr Speaker, there are four divisions of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017. Apart from the administrative division, there is the investigative division, there is the prosecution division, and most importantly, there is the assets recovery and management division. This is to make sure, that for people who had acquired assets through corruption and corruption related cases, these assets are retrieved for the benefit of society. To me, this would serve as a deterrent. This is because, if someone is going to acquire property fraudulently only to realise that this property would be taken away from him or her, there would not be the motivation for such a person to go ahead and get involved or engaged in illegalities or corruption.
And in conclusion?
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would say that the President or the sponsors of this Bill could not have given us any better Bill. As a society, this is a menace which is rooted in us, that is corruption and corruption related cases and therefore, we must fight it with this Bill.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute towards the debate as well as support the Motion and the Report from the Committee. Mr Speaker, may I begin my comments with the Latin expression, Finis coronat opus. To wit, the end crowns the work. Mr Speaker, this is because for a seventy-seven clause Bill, we have proposed over a hundred amendments. This means that the Committee has done a yeoman's job. Mr Speaker, personally, I have proposed over forty-five amendments, and they are before the Table Office. Mr Speaker, we seek to pass into law, a Bill that is going to delegate the prosecutorial powers of the Attorney- General as contained in article 88 to a statutorily created body. Mr Speaker, the tenure of the Bill suggests that the ability of the Office of the Special Prosecutor to proceed with investigations and prosecute cases would no longer be at the behest of the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. Mr Speaker, but we are saying that already, the Attorney-General has, by several attempts and by operation of office, delegated such powers to State institutions such as the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to prosecute cases of theft of power, to the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to prosecute the non-payment of pension deductions. Mr Speaker, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has been given the power to prosecute tax evasion cases. Mr Speaker, therefore, we are saying that so many other institutions exist have the ability to prosecute cases. If you read the Memorandum accompanying the Bill, in part it says;
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion numbered 7 on the Order Paper. In doing so, I wish to commend H. E. the President and the Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice and officers of the Attorney-General's Department for the yeoman's job that they did in preparing this Bill and submitting same to Parliament. Mr Speaker, it is the case which many people have concluded, that political office holders make promises purely for electoral purposes and fail to live by their words. With the presentation of this Bill to this House for consideration, H. E. the President has clearly demonstrated that he is a man of his word, and when he makes promises to the people of Ghana, he would duly abide by same. This Bill is not perfect, and that is the reason the Constitution mandates the promoters of the Bill to submit it to this august House to perfect it. That is the duty of Parliament. It is our duty to scrutinise Bills presented by the Executive, identify all the loopholes and perfect it, so that it could serve the best interest of the people of Ghana. I have heard my Hon Colleagues on the other side complain that some issues with the Bill do not accord with the tenets of the Constitution. My simple answer to them is, that is the work that their constituents have elected them to perform; to make Bills that have been presented to this House which are not perfect into ones that are perfected and serve the best interest of the people of Ghana. Mr Speaker, the overriding theme in this is that, it is a monstrous Bill. It is a Bill that seeks to create a monster, that for all intents and purposes, would fight corruption in this country. When the Hon Second Deputy Speaker joined the deliberations at the clause by clause consideration of the Bill, his first comment was, “what monster are you people creating?” Mr Speaker, we need “a monster” because the effects of corruption in this country are well known to all of us. So, this Bill, which seeks to provide some bite in the fight against corruption is welcome. I commend all the people who participated in its preparation up to this point for doing a good job for the people of Ghana, and call on every Hon Member of this House to support this Motion, so that all the effects that we know corruption visits on this country could be terminated for good. Thank you, Mr Speake, for the opportunity.
Thank you very much, especially for keeping within time. Hon Mahama Ayariga?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, pursuant to Order 127, we are looking at the principles informing the Bill. The African Union (AU) has reported that on an annual basis, about US$148 billion is lost to Africa through corruption. Mr Speaker, Mr Jeffrey Sachs wrote a book, “The End of Poverty”, and by his calculation, with US$175 billion over 20 years, we could end extreme poverty. So, across board, there is unanimity that we must win the fight against the monster called corruption. There is no disagreement. The issue is whether the creation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Office is any novel arrangement for fighting corruption. I do not see any difference between the Special Prosecutor prosecuting a case
Mr Speaker, given the time, let me indicate that by our training as Lawyers, at the end of the day, it is a question of professionalism, and not what we put in this Act. It is a question of how professionally each individual, who investigates and prosecutes a case carries out his or her responsibilities. Lastly, there are time tested principles of jurisprudence. Everyday, as we do this job of passing new legislation, let us be mindful of those principles; the principles that guarantee the privacy and protection of the liberty of individuals. Mr Speaker, in criminal matters we always deal with a situation of “David and Goliath”,the individual and the State, with all its powers and capacities - How could we in these matters place the individual at a disadvantage in relation to the State, given all its powers. Mr Speaker, I would want to draw our attention to the point that we should be careful not to damage time-tested principle, which protect the liberty of individuals in prosecutorial matters. Mr Speaker, I would want to conclude on the note that, we support any effort to fight corruption, and we support the passage of the Bill. There are legal issues about whether it violates article 88 of the Constitution. Mr Speaker, if we fight it, the perception is that we are running away from accountability; but I believe if this matter ends up anyhow, the first person brought to court may have an opportunity to get the Supreme Court to make a pronouncement on this matter.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Hon Members, please, maximise the time that has been given to you. Hon Member, please go on.
Mr Speaker, it appears that there is a simplistic view that has been taken of article 88 of the Constitution. The discourse seems to be, that it is only the Hon Attorney-General and Minster for Justice who has the power to prosecute, but it appears they have forgotten about article 88 (4) and its real import. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would want to quote article 88 (4). “All offenses prosecuted in the name of the Republic of Ghana shall be at the suit of the Attorney- General or any other person authorised by him in accordance with any law”. Mr Speaker, I believe the Office of the Special Prosecutor is not any “any law”. It is one of those laws under which the Hon Attorney-General and Minister of Justice could exercise his or her power to delegate to any other person to prosecute in his or her name. So, this argument about whether it is constitutional or unconsti- tutional should not detain us here. Mr Speaker, if people think that it is unconstitutional, the right forum would be at the Supreme Court when the law is in operation. So, they should wait patiently for the law to be in operation, and then they could go to the Supreme Court. Mr Speaker, the fight against corruption must not be just rhetoric. This is because we were in this country when we saw a very zealous Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice who tried to prosecute cases, but he was stopped in his tracks. So, we must not create a situation where the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice could be so immobilised, because political inertia visited him. Mr Speaker, it is for this reason that the Special Prosecutor is given security of tenure. In the law, he is not supposed to pander to anybody. It is also for this reason that the Office of the Special Prosecutor is so insulated, so that what we have seen in the recent past would not rear its head again. Mr Speaker, with the issue about people associated with politically exposed persons who have been hurled before the court, I do not believe that is what is contained in the Bill. The Bill does not create any offence of association. It only says that politically exposed persons who are involved in the committing of the crime -- so that we deal with people in both public and private offices. Mr Speaker, we have also seen in the recent past, and I believe it is even on- going in the courts, where it has been established clearly that the State has the right to retrieve its money from an individual. We have seen the way the person is skirting around the issue so that the State may not get its money. This time round, the Office of the Special Prosecutor, as created, would give the Prosecutor the power to freeze, follow the money and get to the proceeds of the crime, so that we do not see this drama in the Supreme Court played out again. Mr Speaker, we have also seen in the Bill, that unlike previously, where the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice could just go and enter nolle prosequi, the Special Prosecutor cannot just go to
Hon Bernard Ahiafor?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the debate on a Second Reading of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017. Mr Speaker, I would want to commence by correcting the erroneous impression that political parties in Ghana are against the Bill that creates the Office of the Special Prosecutor. [Interruption] -- I would want to correct the impression by saying that nobody is against the creation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor. Mr Speaker, we would all agree that corruption is a fraudulent and an illegal act which can destroy a nation; it deserves to be condemned irrespective of whether it started from the age of Adam. Mr Speaker, all I would want to say is that, there are a lot of constitutional imperatives which must be taken into account to make this particular law. Mr Speaker, Hon Abban made reference to article 88, and I would want to disagree with what he said. If there is unconstitutionality of this particular Bill, the right place to test it would be at the Supreme Court. Mr Speaker, what is the need for Parliament to make a law when it knows that it has an infraction on the Constitution, only for that law to be shot down by the Supreme Court? Mr Speaker, I would also want to differ from my Hon Colleague from Sekondi. We bring laws to Parliament to be perfected. Every law must be based on principle, and when the principle is flawed by the Constitution, there is the need for us to ensure that we tidy the law. Mr Speaker, he also stated that we need a monster to be able to propel our agenda in eradicating corruption. We do not need a monster in the sense that every man vested with power is liable to abuse. Therefore, in making the law, we should ensure that we do not give too much powers to create that particular monster, which he feels we need. Mr Speaker, the law gives power to the Office of the Special Prosecutor to seize properties without a court order — [Uproar!]— This means that on suspicion of a property being tainted with proceeds from corruption, the Office of the Special Prosecutor can then go ahead and seize the property for a number of days before even going to court to secure the order for it.
And in conclusion?
Mr Speaker, the seizure of property connotes taking over control. It is likely that people would be thrown out of their houses — Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would want to place on record, that because every man vested with power is liable to abuse it —
Mr Speaker, I am grateful for this opportunity to contribute to the debate on the Second Reading of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017. Mr Speaker, indeed, it is a cry of many from the other side that we are creating a monster. It is admitted that corruption is a monster. If it is so, then we need a gigantic monster to consume it. [Hear! Hear!] — If we look carefully at this Bill before us and its import, it would not lead to a situation where we would prosecute unpunished acts of corruption, but it would become a disincentive. Corruption would be made unattractive. This is because, one would suffer penal consequences for whatever the person engages in, and in addition to that, whatever loot the person would have gotten from the act would be given back to the State. Mr Speaker, so if a particular public officer or individual knows that he would serve a prison term, and whatever he or she has stolen would be taken from them — In fact, the person would think about it critically before he or she engages in such illegal acts. Mr Speaker, if we look at best practices elsewhere, it is very clear that places such as the United States of America — even though they have it on ad hoc basis, they actually practise things that are reminiscent of what we are debating today. Mr Speaker, having been given an opportunity by the learned Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice herself to visit the United States of America to study their system, it became very clear that in the States of New York and Washington, for example, the fight against corruption is taken to another level by the ad hoc establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor to deal with issues as and when they come up. Mr Speaker, over the period, the institutions that we have talked about have all existed, including what the Hon Member for Bawku Central, Hon Ayariga and what Hon Bernard Ahiafor stated; and yet, the fight against corruption in our country has not been able to reach the desired levels. Therefore, as we grow, there is the need for us to introduce other institutions, robust and strong enough to ensure that the fight against corruption is taken to another level for the benefit of Ghana. Mr Speaker, the establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor is necessary now than ever before, to give practical meaning and demonstration to H.E the President's avowed aim of taking the fight against corruption to another level. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would like to say without hesitation, that the names of Hon Members of this House would be written in the annals of Ghana's history
Mr Speaker, let me thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion moved by the learned Hon Attorney- General, that the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017 be read a Second time. Mr Speaker, we have enjoyed the knack with which matters of legal concerns have been raised by our Hon Colleague Members of Parliament on both sides. I intend to keep my debate narrowed to two issues. First of all, I shall speak about public policy position on the matter, and our quest to combat corruption as a country and what we need to do. The second leg of my contribution would be on the constitutionality of this initiative, to wit I would make reference to the 1992 Constitution, the Grundnorm and the Supreme Law of our country, and then conclude with what can be done to get it. Mr Speaker, let the world be told that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Minority Members of Parliament and the NDC as a political party, in principle, would support every effort and initiative to fight corruption. This is because it perpetuates inequality and poverty, damages institutional and social fabric of our society, and could hinder the progress of our country. Mr Speaker, it is important that we take and elevate this debate beyond, as usual, our petty partisanship; that “they are against it because they are afraid” — afraid of what? Mr Speaker, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is not governing with angels. He is governing with humans, and to paraphrase former President John Agyekum Kuffour, the age-old problem of corruption, started with Adam. The message he sought to portray was to let us appreciate that corruption is a human problem. Once there is greed, need and opportunity -- particularly, opportunity of public officers who have the public trust in the management of public resources -- the propensity to abuse the office and State resources become very high. So, let nobody be deceived that, the scorpion called the “Special Prosecutor” would sting only former officials of the NDC Government. Indeed, in the United States of America, it stings at sitting Cabinet Ministers, including the President. Even where the Hon Attorney-General and the President go wrong, the appropriate forum for redress would be a Special Prosecutor. Mr Speaker, may I refer to your Committee Report. While I thank the Hon Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee for a diligent work, I am disappointed in Parliament's own efforts to support this Committee. I hope that the Hon Majority Leader would recall this point. We discussed this Bill — I have heard the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice travelled to the United States of America. It was our recommendation that the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs be supported to learn from best practices abroad — Singapore, Canada and the United States of America. It did not happen, and I am disappointed. What is the rush for? You want an elegant Bill that serves our purpose today and tomorrow. Mr Speaker, I raised it at the Business Committee meeting and I was given every assurance — This is because even in the United States of America — We can refer to 1978, during the era of former President Richard Nixon, when he appointed Richard and Archibald Cox into those positions. It lapsed in 1999 and had to be renewed by the Defence and Justice Department of the United States of America. So what lessons — We just work around institutions in Ghana and think it is enough. There are others who have practised it, and the Committee could learn better. Mr Speaker, I said “public policy”. Because of the debilitating effect of corruption, we support the Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice and we support the President. Mr Speaker, indeed, when we come to even the object of this Bill, I together with Hon Colleagues intend to support an amendment which includes that this should not only be on matters of procurement. This is because the tax payers' money substantially goes into it. Every Report and recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament must now be within the remit and domain of the Special Prosecutor to proceed further and punish public officers. Mr Speaker, we need to make corruption a high risk activity, so that it does not know partisan colours. They are in Government today, we were there yesterday; tomorrow, they will be on this side -- [Laughter] — That is the essence of democracy; a Minority can only produce a Government. Mr Speaker, the Hon Bernard Ahiafor raised it-- Mr Speaker, when we come to the Consideration Stage, we would be mindful. Mr Speaker, let me lead you to article 289 of the Constitution; with your indulgence, I beg to read: “(1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament may, by an Act of Parliament, amend any provision of this Constitution.” My emphasis is on article 289 (2), which reads: “This Constitution shall not be amended by an Act of Parliament or altered whether directly or indirectly ...” Mr Speaker, I would refer you further to “This Constitution shall not be amended by an Act of Parliament”. They have brought a Bill, and they are looking and making reference to article 88 of the Constitution. May I refer Mr Speaker to the long title of the Bill; which says: “... implicated in the commission of corruption, prosecute these offences on the authority of the Attorney- General ...” Mr Speaker “on the authority of the Attorney-General”. My simple multi- million dollar question is what can the Special Prosecutor do that the Hon Attorney-General, by virtue of article 88 of the Constitution, is not vested with the authority to do? This is because they say
“influence” -- and that leads me to our appointment. Mr Speaker, in this Bill, the same President who appoints the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is the same President who they say will appoint the Special Prosecutor. Therefore, the principle of prosecutorial indepen- dence is defeated in this Bill because it says “on the authority of the Attorney- General” -- which Attorney-General? Mr Speaker, that leads me to article 88. I have listened to other contributors to the debate, and I have seen persons-- Even in your Committee's Report, to paraphrase, the emphasis is on article 88 (4). To serve my purpose, I would quote article 88 (3): “The Attorney-General shall be responsible for the initiation and conduct of all prosecutions of criminal offences.” Mr Speaker, that is the reason I referred to article 289. We are using a Bill to amend the Constitution. We are not saying that they cannot appoint a Special Prosecutor, but they should walk the procedure Therefore, we on this side would question the procedure of this process. If they want it, they should amend the Constitution appropriately, walk the constitutional processes for amendment, and have a Special Prosecutor appointed. But when they dedicate themselves only to article 88 (4), leaving article 88 (3) -- then this Bill is seeking a backdoor amendment of article 88 (3) -- that procedure we object to. Mr Speaker, let me now come to fundamental human rights. There is a dedicated provision of the Constitution. We have seen somewhere in the Bill where the Special Prosecutor is given powers to intercept communication -- it offends article 18 of the Constitution. That is the reason I am saying that they should not come through the back door. Article 18 (2) says: “No person shall be subjected to interference with the privacy of his home, property, correspondence or communication ...” Mr Speaker, if we go to clause 31, as we look at the principles of the Bill, we would see them being given some powers; power to search for tainted properties and others. We are saying that she should hasten cautiously; Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. Mr Speaker, there is also in this Bill what could be established as incompatible duties and roles with the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ); a creation of the Constitution, and the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO). There are incompatibility of duties. The learned Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice be reminded this afternoon that they cannot even proceed with this Bill without an amendment to the the Criminal Code of Ghana; the two cannot sit in tandem with each other. Therefore, it is not about a Special Prosecutor; it is about the Criminal Offences Act -- what is the status of corruption? In this Bill and globally, it is established that bribery facilitates corruption. We will not find mentioned in this Bill the word “bribery” unless at the interpretation section, yet they say there is a commitment. They are called the twin evils -- one helps the other. When we say someone is being corrupted, he has been bribed. Yet in this Bill, it is very silent; conspicuously lost is bribery; but they are twin evils. We need to find a way in order that we could marry the two. Mr Speaker, finally on PAC. Year in and year out, when your PAC meets, we are told of misappropriation and embezzlement. There is enormous public interest in this Bill and in our quest to fight corruption. This is because there is even erosion of public confidence in our democracy. When a co-thief is jailed or an ordinary Ghanaian steals a mobile phone and is jailed, but a public officer dissipates public resources and he or she is left free, it is not acceptable. Mr Speaker, therefore, this Bill belongs to what we call the “Ethics Legislations”, similar to the Ethics of Government Act of the United States of America. One would have wished that they went to Canada to study; they went to study the best practices of elsewhere. I am disappointed that we did not support the Committee enough, even though they showed interest. Mr Speaker, therefore, we argue that fundamental human rights -- the right to a fair trial is enshrined in our Constitution, and therefore does not lie with the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, EOCO or a Special Prosecutor to announce that I have seized this or that. The duty of the Special Prosecutor, as I understand it, is to take him away from the remit of a partisan advocate to a one of fact. One difficulty of mine is that they say he has the power to initiate, investigate and prosecute. So, how does he tender in his evidence? He is the investigator and also the prosecutor. So what do they do with the Police Service? Somewhere in this Bill, the Special Prosecutor has been reduced to a policeman since they have said that he has the powers of a policeman. So, what happens to the Ghana Police Service and EOCO? Mr Speaker, we were in this country when CHRAJ and even EOCO said that their powers to prosecute are vested in the Attorney-General. That is the reason I said there are incompatible roles and duties. Therefore, probably, we should still allow EOCO to exercise the investigative function while the Special Prosecutor focuses on law. The facts are established for the Special Prosecutor to relate it to the law and be able to get a conviction. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, we disapprove of the procedure because we think that it is a backdoor amendment to article 88(3) of the 1992 Constitution and we think the powers entrusted to the Special Prosecutor are powers vested in the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. Mr Speaker, we would share the position that when we come to improve the appointing authority like the Hon Chairman rightly recommended, it should be subject to the prior approval of two- thirds majority of Parliament. There is a school of thought that we should get a judge who is well versed in the prosecution of criminal offences to play the role of a Special Prosecutor. In some instances, they have many judges who are able to play this particular role. So, let me say that we are unanimous in supporting the principle to fight
Hon Minority Leader, I was trying to -- avoid intervention.
Mr Speaker, I am concluding. One more line. So, the Special Prosecutor must be prepared to go to court with accurate, reliable facts and not salacious allegations in the name of trial. [Hear! Hear!]
Thank you very much, Hon Minority Leader.
Mr Speaker, today should be a very solemn day for Ghana. This is the day we have set out to consider the policy drive behind the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill. Mr Speaker, the preamble to a speech or a document is the introduction or preface to that speech or document. In a document such as the Constitution of a country, the opening statement is the bold encapsulation of the spirit, the principle behind the clothing and indeed, the wording together of the various provisions contained in the 1992 Constitution. In the very preamble of the 1992 Constitution, the people of Ghana, whom we represent in this House declared and affirmed their commitment to freedom, justice, probity and accountability. That is a collective resolve of the citizens of this country. It is not, and I repeat, that it is not the property of any political party. Let nobody deceive himself. The people of this country in a referendum voted unanimously to adopt this Constitution which comes with this preamble. So, probity, accountability, freedom and justice Mr Speaker, are the collective resolve of the people of this country. So, for those of them who pride themselves as the initiators of probity and accountability, if we want to extrapolate probity and accountability, nobody should be running away from it then. [Uproar]-- Mr Speaker, the people of Ghana have pledged to establish a framework of Government which shall secure for ourselves and posterity, the blessings of liberty, equality of opportunity and prosperity. Mr Speaker, the blessings of liberty, equality of opportunity, equality of prosperity for ourselves and posterity can only ensue where there is rule of law. The blessings of liberty, equality of opportunity and equality of prosperity for the people of Ghana and posterity would be elusive if corruption, selfishness, greed and avarice parade our streets and walk our podiums in such swaggering fashion, like the fashion shows that we witness in this country. Mr Speaker, to corrupt, as the Hon Minority Leader has said, in a matter of the application of public resources, means to bribe, to decay or cause a deterioration of or to something. Corruption is the application of public resources for a private gain. It involves dishonesty, it is morally reprehensible, corruption hurts the poor - as our own Kofi Annan has said, more than the well placed in society. Mr Speaker, it is for this reason that the Constitution enjoins the State in article 35(8), and Mr Speaker with your permission let me read article 35(8) of the Constitution for the elucidation of Hon Members. “The State shall take steps to eradicate corrupt practices and the abuse of power.” Mr Speaker, that exactly is what is intended to be done by the Bill titled “The Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017”. In July 2017, the Bill found its way into this Chamber rather inadvertently due to some miscommunication. Later, it was made to appear that either the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice or the Hon Majority Leader wanted to have the Bill rushed through Parliament. That generated some initial apprehensions. Indeed and in truth, and as a matter of public record, the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice from the very outset, never intended this Bill to be considered under a Certificate of Urgency (CoU). She wanted an engagement of as many stakeholders as possible. The Hon Minority Leader is shouting on the side-lines that I did. I never did Mr Speaker. I think that for the records, we had gone to Koforidua and coming back, I liaised with the Clerks-at-The-Table to find out whether the Bill was ready and the information that was given to me was that indeed, the Hon Attorney-General and the Minister for Justice had indicated that the Bill should be laid in Parliament. What I did not do further was to consult the Hon Attorney-General and the Minister for Justice whether indeed the Bill was ready. So, the Clerks-at-The-Table in their zeal to have the Bill come to Parliament, programmed it and that day I was late in coming to Parliament and when I came, I saw it on the Order Paper, and I thought that it ensued from the communication between the Table Office and the Attorney-General. Later, it turned out to be a miscommunication. But the good thing is when the Bill was referred to the Committee, the Committee in their wisdom decided that no, it could not be considered under a CoU and that is why we are here today. Mr Speaker, today, Parliament has heard from the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, the details of the policy and principles of the Bill. The defects of the existing regime, the remedies proposed to deal with the defects and the necessity for its introduction as enjoined by article 106 (2) (a) of the 1992 Constitution. Mr Speaker, issues have been made about article 88 (3) but clearly, article 88 (4) provides for a delegation of responsibility by the Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice. It is as simple as that. Mr Speaker, what the Bill seeks to do, is to lift the opportunity afforded by article 88 (4) to place this on a higher pedestal, and to give the officer who the Attorney- General may designate a greater focus. Mr Speaker that is the remit of the Bill.
Hon Members, thank you very much. Hon learned Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, you may make a few remarks.
Mr Speaker, on behalf of my office and my own self, I wish to convey my sincere thanks to the Rt Hon Speaker, Hon Members of both sides of this House and in particular, the Committee that spent so much time in considering the Bill. Mr Speaker, we have listened carefully to the arguments on both sides, and as the Hon Majority Leader has said, no document is sacrosanct. Indeed, it is for that reason that this Bill has to be considered by the representatives of the people of this country. We are hopeful that by the time it is done with - My office and I would remain with the House throughout the consideration. Mr Speaker, I would want to plead with the House that the Bill has been called various names, including the decoration of a monster. Let us not create the impression that we are dealing with the canon worms. We must face up to the difficulties that this country is confronted with through corruption. Mr Speaker, but if indeed, it is the canon worm then, they would never mature into sausages. They may as well turn into some caricatures that we might not be able to deal with, should they force themselves out. Perhaps, this is the time to deal with that canker called corruption and to do that we must pry that chancre, gingerly and deal with the contents. Mr Speaker, we thank you for the opportunity and we welcome any suggestions because the efficacy of any piece of legislation is tested only by its application within a period. So, we would listen and do the needful. Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, thank you very much. Question put and Motion agreed to. The Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017, was accordingly read a Second time.
Thank you, Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. You may take your leave. Hon Members, item numbered 8.
Mr Speaker, it is intended to have the three Motions taken at the same time, but the Consideration of the last one, which is the Coastal Development Authority Bill, 2017 was concluded just yesterday. We need to do some reconciliation with the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017 as well as the Middle Belt Development Authority Bill, 2017, which has not been done. The Committee has informed me that they are working together with the Table Office and the Attorney-General's Department to do the reconciliation. We could then take the Third Reading tomorrow. Mr Speaker, that being the case, I beg to move, that we adjourn the House for today and resume tomorrow at 12.00 noon.
Hon Minority Leader? [Interruption.]
Fortunately, it is just Mr Speaker I need to defer to. Mr Speaker, I have noted that after this lovely debate, we are now being told that we should defer to tomorrow. If there is Business, we are ready to work, except that the Hon Majority Leader must keep the morale of Hon Members high. Mr Speaker, while I second the Motion for adjournment, I relate to the Hon Majority Leader that when we come to the Northern Development Authority Bill, 2017, and probably, I would discuss it with the Hon Chairman of the Committee, I would seek to arrest the Third Reading for a Second Consideration Stage because I still feel very strong about the creation of the office of the Deputy Chief Executive for the Northern Development Authority Bill. So, if the Hon Majority Leader has Business, we are here. It is too early in the day, he was shouting that there was Business. Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion for adjournment.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, on such occasions when the Hon Minority Leader makes such comments, we are prepared to forgive him. So, I would offer no further comments on what he has said.
Very well. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 3.15 p.m. till Friday, 27th October, 2017 at 12.00 noon.