President Mahama suspends CHRAJ Commissioner

Lauretta LampteyThe President, John Dramani Mahama has suspended the Commissioner for the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Ms Lauretta V. Lamptey.

A press statement from the Presidency issued in Accra Tuesday January 13, 2015, says, “President John Dramani Mahama has on the advice of the Judicial Council and pursuant to Article 146 (10) (b) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, suspended from office, Ms. Lauretta V. Lamptey, Commissioner for the Commission on Human Rights & Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).”

The statement cited Prosper Bani, the Chief of Staff as saying “the suspension follows the establishment of a prima facie case against Ms. Lamptey by the Chief Justice, and the setting up of a five (5)-member committee to investigate complaints made against her.”

“The suspension, is to protect the integrity of the enquiry. Ms. Lamptey has been asked to hand over her duties to a Deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr. Richard Quayson, not later than Friday January 16, 2015,” Mr. Bani added.

Ms Lamptey, was reported to have since August 2014, moved into a hotel after the $5,500 monthly rent for her apartment at the African Union (AU) Village had expired. The daily rate for the hotel was reported to be $456.25 but was paid in cedis.

During this period she was waiting for the completion of her official residence, which was being renovated three years after she took the position.

Consequently, since July 2011 when she was appointed to July 2014 when her rent at the AU Village expired, a period of 37 months, $203,500 was spent on her rent accommodation, including utilities, a Daily Graphic report said.

Some reports also suggested that the official residence, which was occupied by the former commissioner, Mr Justice Emile Short, was being redesigned with several variations at her instance, all at a cost of GH¢182,000.

A budgetary allocation of GH¢1.5 million was reportedly made to CHRAJ in 2014 under goods and services.

The Daily Graphic report indicated that, out of the total amount of money allocated only GH¢242,000, representing 16.1 per cent of it had been released by the government, “but further checks indicated that CHRAJ is allocated GH¢500,000 annually to cover accommodation expenses for its entire staff, including those on transfer,” the newspaper added.

However, between January and August 2014, the newspaper found that the commissioner alone expended about GH¢120,000, based on a conservative average exchange rate of GH¢3 to $1, on her monthly rent of $5,500.

These reports irked the public, leading to calls for her removal from office. Some also called on her to resign. The president subsequently set up a committee to look into the matter.

The Late President John Evans Atta Mills swore Ms. Lamptey into office as Commissioner for the CHRAJ in July 2011.

Ms Lamptey took over from Ms Anna Bossman, Acting Commissioner of CHRAJ.

She became the second substantive Commissioner for CHRAJ after Mr Justice Emil Short, who resigned in December 2013. Mr Justice Short was appointed in 1993 after the coming into effect of the 1992 Constitution.

Ms Lamptey holds L.L.B. and B.L. degrees from the University of Ghana and the Ghana Law School respectively, and an L.L.M. in International Business Law from the London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) of the University of London.

By Emmanuel K Dogbevi

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