CDD-Ghana wants indemnity clause abolished

The Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) on Monday joined other democratic stakeholders to call for the abolition of the indemnity clause which insulated individuals and persons affiliated to previous military regimes from prosecution.

Section 34 of the transitional provisions of the 1992 Constitution indemnifies all coup makers and their functionaries against any liability for acts and omissions committed during their administration.

Mr. Daniel Armah-Attoh, a CDD-Ghana Senior Research Officer briefing the media on a survey conducted in June this year in Accra revealed that: “about 65 per cent of households and 79 per cent of elite and expert respondents favour the abolishing of the indemnity clause”.

The Centre however cautioned that: “any amendments to the transitional provisions in the 1992 Constitution granting indemnity to past military regimes would require delicate handling because there are strong variations among respondents according to their region and who they said voted for in Election 2008”.

The survey was conducted in four districts each from the Volta, Northern and Eastern Regions and five districts each from Ashanti and Greater Accra Regions to mobilise non-state, civil society and independent expert input into Ghana’s constitution review and reform process.

It sought to facilitate process of the constitutional review and to help find long term solutions to Ghana’s democracy, good governance and development deficits.

Ghana News Agency monitoring of the Constitutional Review discussion indicates a divided opinion on the issues, while some democratic stakeholders are suggesting for its abolition, others hold contrary view.

Dr. Yao Obed Asamoah, Former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, cautioned that any attempt to expunge the Indemnity Clause from the 1992 Constitution of Ghana would lead the nation on an undesirable path.

He described the Indemnity Clause as a covenant with more or less coup makers that “look, you give us our freedom, we give you protection”.

Dr. Asamoah argued that while coups were considered illegal, a successful coup re-establishes a new legal order and there was very little anyone could do about such situations.

Mr. David Annan, an Accra-based legal practitioner noted that any attempt to target the indemnity clauses for review would be a waste of time.

He said framers of the constitution had crafted the procedure for amending the “entrenched provisions”, which must all proceed from acts of Parliament, but Article 37 of the Transitional Provisions made it emphatic that Parliament could not touch the indemnity clauses.

Mr. Annan said: “It would be an exercise in futility for the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) to even consider receiving proposals on those particular clauses”.

Dr Raymond Atuguba, Executive Secretary of Constitution Review Commission (CRC), has hinted that the nation might be heading for a national referendum to amend some of the most entrenched clauses of the 1992 Constitution.

He said with over 6,000 proposals received, it was within reach of the threshold where a referendum might be required.

The CDD-Ghana survey also revealed that majority of respondents, 70 per cent households and 65 per cent elite favoured amendment of the constitution to make it easier for Members of Parliament to initiate, introduce and pass bills into laws while 53 per cent households and 64 per cent elite proposed that MPs should not serve as Ministers.

The majority of respondents both elite and household want tertiary education to be the minimum educational requirement for parliamentarians.

Other issues the respondents supported, amended or needed removal included; the mode of approving key government officials including Chief Justice, Supreme Court Judges, Electoral Commissioners, and Auditor General.

The rest are retirement packages for elected politicians, number of ministers and deputy ministers, procedure for creation of new ministers by the President, number of Supreme Court Justices, empanelling Supreme Court Justices, power and function of CHRAJ and decoupling of Attorney General from Ministry of Justice.

The role of traditional authorities in partisan politics; election of key local government officials; appointment of one-third of assembly members by the executive; the directive principles of state policy, remand prisoners, the usefulness of the Council of State, voting rights to Ghanaians abroad and issue of dual citizenship.

Source: GNA

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