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Special Prosecutor, staff to enjoy immunity from civil suit

Parliament Tuesday debated the issue of granting an immunity to the Special Prosecutor and his staff who will run the much-awaited office that will make corruption undesirable to public officers.

The amendment is part of the last seven out of 77 amendments to the bill which is yet to be passed by Parliament.

The clause proposed by Chairman of the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament  Ben Abdallah reads; “an authorised officer is immune from prosecution in the performance of his duties under this act if the authorized officer acted in good faith and on reasonable grounds.”

However, this was objected to by the Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu on the grounds that granting the Special Prosecutor and his officers sweeping immunity could create problems.

He argued that it will allow them to do things without considering what the implications are.  

But the Majority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu rejected the arguement of the minority, insisting that the office is a specialized body that is brought in to deal with corruption and deserves immunity.

Joy News’ parliamentary correspondent, Joseph Opoku Gakpo reported that eventually, the two sides of the House reached an agreement that the Special Prosecutor and his staff will be granted immunity from civil suit.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor is a campaign promise by the Nana Akufo-Addo-led NPP to take away some of the prosecutorial duties of the Attorney-General who is often deemed to be influenced politically and hand same over to an independent Office of the Special Prosecutor.

The rationale is to avoid the never-ending stories and allegations of political witch-hunting which has bedevilled prosecutions of political officers in the past.

In July this year, the Minority for the third time insisted the Office of the Special Prosecutor’s Bill must be withdrawn from Parliament with immediate effect.

Mr Iddrisu said that while the spirit behind the Bill may be well intended, it was improperly laid before the House.

He, therefore, demanded that the Attorney-General goes through the full process by which a bill is laid before the House for consideration.

The bill was later properly laid before the house but had many ammendements all of which were made Tuesday ahead of a planned passage.