The government has reiterated its decision to amend sections of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 to make corruption and other related offences felonies instead of misdemeanours under the current statutes.
It said the decision was to deter public servants from illegally enriching themselves with state funds.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo reiterated his government’s position in a statement read on his behalf at the opening of a two-day conference on governance and law as part of activities to mark Ghana 60yearson.
It was organised by the Law Faculty of the University of Professional Studies (UPSA) in Accra yesterday.
The conference brought together academics, scholars, researchers, human rights activists, legal practitioners, policy makers and opinion leaders to discuss governance and law.
The conference is being held on the theme: “Ghana @60: Evolution of law, democratic governance, human rights and future prospects.”
Felony and Misdemeanour
Among the five degrees of offences recognised in Ghana are felony, which is categorised into first and second degrees, and misdemeanour.
First-degree felonies are punishable by life imprisonment and are limited to manslaughter, rape, and mutiny, while second-degree felonies are punishable by, but not limited to, 10 years of imprisonment and include intentional and unlawful harm to persons, perjury and robbery.
Misdemeanour is punishable by various terms of imprisonment and includes offences such as assault, theft, unlawful assembly, official corruption and public nuisances.
Holding public officers to account
President Akufo-Addo submitted that failure of the state to hold public officers to account, particularly when it related to corruption, was something that stakeholders had to be ashamed of.
He said corruption undoubtedly remained the bane of the economic development and progress of the nation.
“Sadly, corruption is merely categorised as a misdemeanour by virtue of Section 239 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960(Act 29). The proliferation of corrupt public officials, for example, has weakened the legitimacy, effectiveness, efficiency of state institutions and most importantly destroyed the trust relationship that must exist between the government and the people,” he said.
The President did not mince words when he said that his government would not tolerate any criminal act from public office holders, hence the decision to amend the Criminal Offences Act, 1960.
To effectively deal with the canker of corruption, especially by public officials, President Akufo–Addo underscored the need for institutional reforms to complement the proposed legislative reforms.
“To this end, as I have already stated publicly, it is the intention of my government to establish an office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP),” he said.
He assured the public that the OSP would be truly independent as promised and help to break the monopoly of prosecutional authority currently exercised by the Attorney-General.
President Akufo–Addo said the OSP would, therefore, be responsible for initiating, investigating and prosecuting cases of corruption involving public office holders, breaches of the Public Procurement Act, the Financial Administration Act, among other responsibilities.
“It is my fervent belief that such initiatives will play no small part in vigorously fighting corruption because it is incumbent upon us and imperative that we root out corruption in this country by nipping it in the bud once and for all,” he said.
Source: Daily Graphic
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