The Commissioner for Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Mr Emile Short, has proposed the separation of the mandates of the commission, as they are “overly broad”.

He said separating the mandates and bringing them under two institutions would ensure the effectiveness of the functions of fighting corruption, promoting human rights and ensuring administrative justice.

Mr Short made the proposal in his contribution to the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) at a mini-consultative forum in Accra yesterday.

The mini-consultation is one of the CRC’s strategies for engaging special constitutional and governance institutions on issues pertaining to the Constitution and its review.

It has already consulted with the Electoral Commission and the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE).

The format of the consultation with CHRAJ was, however, different as the commission presented proposals collated from their staff-in all the 98 district and 10 regional offices on issues pertaining to the constitutional basis of their functions, work and conditions of service, among others.

The commissioner and the two deputies, Ms Anna Bossman and Mr Richard Quayson, then took turns to make their submissions on some aspects of the proposals.

Mr Short suggested that bringing the ombudsman functions and human rights under one institution and having the anti-corruption mandate under another would be helpful.

He said so long as CHRAJ had the ombudsman, the human rights and the anticorruption functions all under one umbrella, it would never get the needed resources to effectively discharge all the responsibilities under the functions.

He said most often, the Ministry of Finance, in dispensing funds, saw CHRAJ as just a single institution and gave no consideration to its triple mandate and associated functions.

He was sure, therefore, that separating the functions would ensure the needed resources for the specific functions, which would result in efficient delivery.

His vision of such a separate anti-corruption body was one that had strong powers of arrest, search and seizure, as well as prosecutorial.

He mentioned Rwanda and Sierra Leone as two of the countries that had such separate institutions for the three functions of ensuring human rights, administrative justice and fighting corruption.

Mr Quayson was, however, of the view that a better interrogation of the matter was needed for CHRAJ to come up with a position on the matter.

He said there already existed some institutions which had functions bordering on anti-corruption and, therefore, having a separate institution for anti-corruption might just create more institutions without the needed funding,

Other issues raised were the expansion of the membership of the commission to five or seven full-time members with fixed tenures and renewable terms.

The conditions of service of commissioners were also raised by Ms Bossman, who suggested a proper interpretation of Article 71 of the Constitution in relation to their conditions of service to ensure that their conditions were not “frozen in time”.

The three commissioners also proposed a pluralistic representation of the commission members to reflect the composition of other professionals in the society and not only lawyers, which will be in accordance with the Paris Principles,that relates to human rights institutions.

The Chairman of the CRC, Prof. Albert Fiajoe, expressed the hope that the review would strengthen governance and constitutional institutions.

Source: Daily Graphic

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