The Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) has called on Parliament to review the “Conduct of Public Officer’s Bill,” 2018, to ensure sound amendments are made before its passage.
The Coalition made the call at a virtual workshop for journalists to enhance their understanding and to mobilize support for the speedy passage of the bill.
The workshop was on the theme: “Coordinating Civil Society input on the Conduct of Public Officer’s Bill.”
Mr Nick Opoku, Legal and Government Policy Analyst, CDD-Ghana, said the 2018 bill, in its present state, did not sufficiently address key issues concerning asset declaration.
He said clause 44 left out the Office of the Special Prosecutor whose mandate included the prosecution of corruption-related offences.
“ It is our view that the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) should refer any matter it considers worth prosecuting after its investigations to the Attorney-General and the office of the Special Prosecutor Act,2017 (Act 959); and not just the Attorney General’s Office as currently proposed in the bill,” he said.
He said Clause 24 only provided for public officers to report cases to the head of the public service in which a public officer is employed and that CHRAJ was expected to train and designate Ethics Officers in public institutions to attend to such cases faced by officers without fear or favour.
He said clause 23 seemed to exonerate any public officer who adhered to the disclosure and recusal remedies for managing conflict of interest and should be deleted.
Touching on sexual harassment, Mr Opoku said the bill’s position on the matter was vague and needed to be reviewed to include all forms of sexual harassment, adding that the four-year interval provided in clause 4(2) (b) on the declaration of assets by public officers should be reduced to one year.
Dr Kojo Asante, Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement, Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) said poor work was done to address public ethics and that non-ethical behaviours gave room for corruption.
He said to deter public officers from corrupt practices, enforcement of the law and punishment were important.
Mr Bright Sowu, Deputy Executive Secretary, GACC, said the bill when passed into law, would determine the grounds for disqualification from holding public office, declaration of assets, what constituted improper enrichment, solicitation, and the acceptance of gifts, and the forfeiture and disposal of prohibited gifts.