General News of Sunday, 30 December 2018
The former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) says the government may need to rethink its approach to fighting corruption.
Justice Emile Short believes that the adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ is appropriate in the fight against corruption and so although investigation and prosecution is great, it is only one part of the equation and more needs to be done.
“In a situation where corruption is so endemic, you need a lot of education to change the mindset of the people to try and deal with the systemic corruption in the system.
“Martin Amidu might make a difference because investigation and prosecution and then jailing people serves as a deterrent but then I think prevention measures are probably more important than investigation and prosecution,” he added.
Justice Short was speaking on Joy FM’s news analysis programme Newsfile, Saturday.
He is of the view that once those are taken care of, the prevention dimension which deals with having the proper anti-corruption legislation like the Right to Information Bill and the Conduct of Public Officers Bill.
“These are important pieces of legislation which the Parliament seems to always drag its feet on this anti-corruption legislation.”
The former judge of the United Nations Criminal Tribunal is worried that although corruption is so pervasive, the government appears unprepared to deal with it.
President Akufo-Addo since assuming office in 2017 has touted his preparedness to fight corruption.
He followed through with the establishment of the Special Prosecutor’s Office and the appointment of Martin Amidu as the country’s first Special Prosecutor.
But many hopes have been dashed as Mr Amidu is yet to investigate the many allegations of corruption or prosecute any public or government official.
Justice Short believes the Special Prosecutor’s Office seems like a good first step but it must be put into proper perspective.
He said expecting Mr Amidu to start any prosecutions now, will be a wrong expectation because “it is a new office…when I had to set up CHRAJ from scratch it took a long time…so I think that you must suspend judgement until he starts working.”
In his view, Mr Amidu has a great track record in fighting corruption and once all he needs is provided, he will deliver, “I do not think he’s going to put his reputation on the line. I feel he is going to make an impact when he starts.”
Although he appreciates the work being done by civil society, he says “I don’t think we are fighting corruption, we are only dancing around it.”
Making reference to all the many allegations levelled against some of president Akufo-Addo’s appointees, especially the infamous Australia visa scandal during the Olympic Games, Justice Short, called for the investigative report into the scandal to be made public.
He said the former Deputy Sports Minister Pius Hadzide who was alleged to have been at the centre of the scandal cannot be exonerated and the details not being made to the public.
“Tell us exactly why he was found not to have been guilty,” he stressed.
There are so many questions which are unanswered and when you don’t release the report, you are fuelling speculation and people will think you have ulterior motives, he said.
“So I think that it is in the interest of government to realign its approach to fighting corruption.”