Make Corruption A High Crime – Emile Short

Former head of the Commission on Human Rights and Administration Justice (CHRAJ, Mr Emile Short, has called for the amendment of the Criminal Offences Act to make corruption a high crime rather than a misdemeanour.

According to him, the definition of corruption in the Act gives it a very narrow scope, requiring an amendment to give it a wider remit to deter culprits.

Speaking to Class News, the retired High Court judge said government would need to pass domestic legislation in accordance with UN protocols as part of measures to make the age-old canker unattractive.

“A felony attracts a much higher sentence than a misdemeanour. …The idea is to make the sentence for corruption much higher to serve as a deterrent. The definition of corruption in the criminal offences act is very narrow. Ghana has ratified the United Nations convention against corruption and the African convention for combating corruption. These two conventions, which were ratified in 2005, gives a much wider definition of corruption to include things like illicit enrichment [and] insider dealings. There is the need for parliament to pass domestic legislation to embrace this wider definition,” he stated.

Mr Short also appealed to the government to amend the Asset Declaration Law to ensure compliance.

“There is the need to amend the Asset Declaration Law to make it more effective because at the moment no institution has the mandate to check the veracity of the declarations which are made and also the declarations are not made public,” he noted, adding: “CHRAJ has the mandate to investigate noncompliance. If the law is amended, it still could be made an offence [not to declare asset] to make it more stringent and effective but at the moment there is no provision that says that it’s a criminal offence.”