Parliament on Tuesday passed the Mutual Legal and Assistance Bill, 2009 meant to establish a comprehensive legal framework for the implementation of agreements on mutual legal assistance to facilitate the prosecution of transnational crimes.

Also to help administer criminal justice across jurisdictions and related matters, the Bill is organized in 13 subject matter areas spanning 86 clauses namely, application; request for mutual legal assistance; grounds for refusal of mutual legal assistance and provision of assistance with conditions; request for specific forms of assistance, procedures for handling persons in custody as witnesses; procedural measures related to the presence, transfer and transport of persons through Ghana.

Other areas include request for evidence gathering by technology; interception and preservation of communications data; special request for investigative measures; requests by foreign states for confiscation of proceeds or instrumentalities of crime; related courts’ lending exhibits under a loan order and production of judicial or official records; admissibility in Ghana of evidence obtained outside Ghana and miscellaneous provisions.

Mrs Adeline Bamford-Addo, Speaker of Parliament, passed the bill after it was moved by the Deputy Attorney General and Justice Minister, Mr Ebo Barton-Oduro, seconded by Minister for Energy, Mr Joe Oteng Adjei, and read the third time.

A report on the Bill by the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs signed by Richard Lassey Agbenyefia, Vice Chairman and Mr Ebenezer A Djietror, Principal Assistant Clerk, said Ghana’s efforts to lend support to the comity of nations in furtherance of the above finds expression in the passage of a number of legislations some of which include the Narcotics Drugs Act, 1990, the Security and Intelligence Act, 1996 (Act 526).

It noted that it was therefore in connection with this that the Bill provides for the establishment of a one-stop shop legal framework between the republic and foreign states for the implementation of agreements for mutual legal assistance in the combating crime across different jurisdictions.

The committee noted that by the passage of the bill the country would not only be seen to be discharging this obligation but also enhancing the viability of its legal regimes towards a more effective and efficient combating of transnational crimes.

Source: GNA