Premature for CHRAJ to prosecute – Dep. Commissioner
Mr Richard Quayson, Deputy Commissioner of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has cautioned against calls for the Commission to be given powers to prosecute in its cases being handled, since this could lead to abuse.
He explained that it would not be prudent for CHRAJ to prosecute an individual it may be investigating since there is the natural tendency that the commission may want to secure conviction and as such the individual who appears before the commission may not get a fair hearing.
According to him, he would prefer the Attorney General’s Office to do the prosecution on behalf of the Commission until the calls for the separation of the position of the Attorney General (AG) from the Minister of Justice, to have an independent prosecutor, was achieved.
Mr Quayson made the comment at a round table discussion on the Whistleblowers Act, 2006 (Act720) at Kitase near Aburi, in the Eastern Region.
The two-day conference scheduled for October 28-29, 2013, was to bring all the key accountability and investigative institutions and civil society organizations together to discuss issues affecting the implementation of the Whistleblowers Act (WA) as well as proposed amendments to the Act.
Some of the institutions attending the conference include the CHRAJ, Attorney General Department, Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and the Police.
Mr Quayson stated that, the purpose of the Act was to encourage individuals to make disclosures of information relating to unlawful, corrupt or other illegal conduct or practices in the country.
He noted that a person may make a disclosure of information where that person has reasonable cause to believe that the information tends to show, among others, that an economic crime has been committed or a person has not complied with a law or is in the process breaking the law.
He said the Act also protect individuals who make such disclosures as well as provide for the manner an exposé should be made.
Mr Quayson further stated the Act promotes transparency and accountability as well as creating the enabling environment to check corruption.
He explained that, the Commission, on receipt of a complaint, conducts an enquiry into the complaint at which the whistleblower and the person against whom the complaint is made would be heard.
He said the Commission has the power to make final and binding orders when it is exercising its power of protection for whistleblowers who have been victimized.
Mr Charles Ayamdoo, Director, Anti-Corruption, CHRAJ, who gave an overview of the proposed amendment stated that, the modifications of the law seeks to address the various weaknesses that have been observed in the Act.
He said there is a perception that the Act is public sector bias and the protection that it offers to the whistleblower is not adequate.
He said the Act in its current state conflicts with the constitution, in terms of the independence of CHRAJ and the National Media Commission (NMC).
Mr Ayamdoo also stated that the sections of the Act affected by the amendments, include disclosure of impropriety, a person who qualifies to make disclosure of impropriety, the person or institution to which disclosure of impropriety may be made as well as action by person who receives the revelation impropriety.