State has the primary responsibility to fight corruption – CHRAJ
Mr. Richard A. Quayson, Deputy Commissioner, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has stated that the State has the primary responsibility to fight corruption and make its practice a high risk.
He added that the conversation on corruption should start with the Directive Principle of State Policy that dealt specifically with corruption and Chapter 24 of the Constitution.
He said Article 34 (8) mandated the State to play the leading role in the fight against corruption.
Mr. Quayson was speaking at the 2022 International Anti-Corruption Day Symposium organised by the commission which was on the topic: “Curbing Corruption through a Rigorous Conduct of Public Officers Law: The Perspective of CHRAJ”.
The CHRAJ Deputy Commissioner deduced that corruption was a system that thrives where effective preventative and enforcement systems are lacking.
He said the Code of Conduct (COC) for Public Officers can only be effective to curb corruption in Public Office when “we have in place a framework that delegates authority for implementation, compliance, enforcement, and sanctioning powers to specified integrity agency or agencies, which have in place rules, policies and procedures for inter-agency cooperation”.
It is, therefore, important that all prohibited unethical conduct was adequately defined so officials know what behaviors are prohibited and what constitutes violations, and which agency is responsible for enforcing compliance, as well as prevention and detection systems, he said.
Mr. Quayson noted that the lack of clarity in these and other areas corruption to thrive while handicapping institutions responsible for prevention and detection.
It also lowers the credibility of the Public Office and the government as a whole and erodes the trust that people want to have in public institutions and the government.
The CHRAJ Deputy Commissioner said equally important was that the range of sanctions and penalties for breaches of the Code are proportionate, dissuasive, and effective, stressing “we should not use a Code of Conduct law to criminalize conduct”.
Mr. Quayson said findings from the 2021 Ghana Integrity of Public Services Survey (GIPSS) revealed that corruption was still rife in Public Service, stressing that public trust appears to continue to diminish.
He said the findings reveal that a greater proportion of adults in Ghana have more confidence in religious and traditional justice systems relative to the formal one.
He said data from the GIPSS survey indicates that seven in every 10 representing 69.9 percent of adults hold the view that the religious and traditional leaders’ system effectively protected the rights of every citizen, a figure that was 10.8 percentage points higher than those who agreed that the
formal justice system effectively protects the rights of every citizen 59.1 percent.
“This, obviously, should not be allowed to continue, and the ball is now in our court,” stressing that the public does not demand that public servants should be angels.
Mr. Quayson said their revulsion is with the unruly manner we appear to manage their interests and their scarce resources, adding “it may not always be the case, but appearances and perception alone can create disaffection and erode public confidence in public service”.
He said “the government and Public Service owe it to the people in whose name and on whose behalf, we exercise the powers of the State to put our
house in order and restore confidence and hope to our people”.