MPs vow to hold on to their immunity

Members of Parliament are likely to reject the scrapping of Article 117, which gives Parliamentarians some level of immunity from arrest.

According to the Article, “Civil or criminal process coming from any court or place out of Parliament shall not be served on, or executed in relation to, the Speaker or a member or the clerk to Parliament while he is on his way to, attending at or returning from, any proceedings of Parliament.”

But the Constitution Review Commission after a thorough job recommended the amendment of the article to allow civil or criminal processes to be served on the Speaker or MPs through the Clerk of Parliament whilst the House is in session.

The recommendation has been accepted by the government after the executive issued a white paper on the report.

But the MPs are least impressed.

One of them, Michael Teye Nyaunu insists the amendment will in no small way affect the work of Parliament and served notice they will reject it when the entire report is brought before the house.

The Lower Manya Krobo MP explained the work of an MP was so crucial it could not be disrupted by threats of arrests.

He said the immunity is only for the period when the MP is on his way or returning from Parliament, adding that an MP can be arrested at any other time if he or she committed any crime.

He dismissed claims by the Executive Director of the Ghana Integrity Initiative, Vitus Azeem that the provision, albeit passed for good reasons by the framers of the constitution, has been abused.

Teye Nyaunu challenged the critics to name instances where the provision has been abused.

On the contrary, he said if the Article was scrapped, the executive could exploit the situation.

He said if a bill of great importance is about to be passed, government can cause the arrest of opponents in order to get the bill passed.

When he was reminded that the amendment was triggered by suggestions from the majority of Ghanaians and ought to stand, Teye Nyanu was quick to retort, that Parliament is the true representation of the people.

He said when the entire report comes to Parliament they will subject it to due diligence, hinting they will reject the executive’s decision to scrap the immunity of Parliamentarians.