Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) Programmes Manager, Mary Awelana Addah

Programmes Manager for the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Mary Awelana Addah, says it is pointless for government to pass new laws to fight corruption in the country when existing ones are not being implemented.

According to her, the government and law enforcement agencies must strengthen existing laws that have requisite provisions pertaining to how corruption-related matters should be treated.

Speaking to Samson Lardi Anyenini on Newsfile on Saturday, she stressed that it is inadequate for a government to tout that more laws have been passed when in actual terms, such rules end up becoming dysfunctional.

“I believe that at this point [and] I suspect you’d agree with me that we do not need more laws. What we need is to strengthen what we already have,” she said.

Delivering the keynote address at the National Anti-Corruption Conference on December 10, President Akufo-Addo said his government has undertaken, arguably, the boldest initiatives since independence to reform and strengthen the capacity of the nation’s institutions to tackle corruption in the public sector.

According to him, “government has fought corruption not in words, but in concrete deeds. We have shunned mere exhortations and showy denunciations of unproved corruption. It has been a holistic approach.”

The President cited laws such as the Witness Protection Act, 2018, (Act 975) and the Criminal Offences (Amendment) Act, 2020, (Act 1034) which was passed to amend section 239 of the Criminal Offences Act, to categorise the offence of corruption, previously a misdemeanor, as a felony, and to guarantee stiffer punishments of terms of imprisonment of not less than twelve (12) years and not more than twenty-five (25) years in prison.

But Mary Addah believes the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) Act was enough to deal with some of the issues the President mentioned in his speech.

She thinks the attempt to replace existing laws with new ones are needless.

“Let me quickly say that when he talks about the amendment of the Criminal Offences Act to make corruption a second-degree felony, we already had a law – the Criminal Offences and Procedure Act – which already indicated that anybody who was found culpable of a corrupt act could go to prison for 25 years.”

“Sometimes, we just want to go to Parliament just to make the process firmer, but we already had a law which we could operationalise, and for me, I thought it wasn’t one of the critical things we needed to do because we already had a law to cover that,” she argued.

“Again, with the Witness Protection Act that we passed, we have whistleblower legislation that we are working with, which is not too effective as we speak. In the whistleblower legislation, we have a compensation mechanism which has never been activated; these are some of the things we should be pursuing.”

Meanwhile, she wants the Attorney General to operationalise some of the laws under his mandate and ensure that the required funds for their implementation are set up.

“If you go to the institutions that are supposed to be receiving complaints and working on them, they will tell you that on an annual basis, we do not even 10 complaints, let alone to talk about pursuing this.”

“It’s about actualising the law and ensuring that it operates and if we do not put in place the mechanism and architecture, to ensure that these laws are working, then we’d be shooting ourselves in the foot,” she added.