The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has called on Parliament to fast-track the process for the passage of the Code of Conduct of Public Officers (CoPO) Bill into law.
Mr Richard A. Quayson, CHRAJ Deputy Commissioner said the Bill when passed into law would give meaning to the conflict of interest, other public appointments, declaration of assets and liabilities, complaints of contravention, and interpretation which are captured under chapter 24 of the 1992 Constitution.
“But more importantly, it will serve as a reference and a benchmark for ethical conduct in the Public Service of Ghana,” Mr Quayson stated at the 2022 International Anti-Corruption Day Symposium organised by the commission which was on the topic: “Curbing Corruption through a Rigorous Conduct of Public Officers Law: The Perspective of CHRAJ”.
Mr. Quayson said the delay in passing the Bill was certainly not in the public interest, and it stifled our collective efforts at helping public officers avoid compromising and conflicting situations in public office.
The CHRAJ Deputy Commissioner said a CoPO Law would elaborate on and give full effect to the anti-corruption ethos of Chapter 24 of the Constitution.
“Let me take this opportunity to commend the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice for prioritizing the CoPO Bill immediately after assuming office, resulting in the drafting of the CoPO Bill, 2021.
“As we commemorate the IACD under the theme “UNCAC @ 20: Uniting the World Against Corruption,” let us unite as a nation to strengthen the CoPO Bill to enable the nation to achieve its objectives.
He said the CoPO provided the broad framework for dealing with conflict of interest, illicit enrichment, and other prohibited unethical conduct that has the capacity to erode public confidence in Public Office.
He explained that the ultimate loyalty of public officials should be to the public interests of their country as expressed through the democratic institutions of the government.
Mr Quayson challenged Parliament to demonstrate the necessary political will and pass the CoPO Bill, to address the shortcomings in our current Assets Declaration Regime.
“A robust CoPO Bill should ensure that Article 286 is sufficiently expounded to make adequate provision for civil or administrative sanctions or to make provision for same to be made in subsidiary legislation, but more importantly, the Bill should strengthen the mechanisms for incentivizing and compelling compliance,” he said.
In the case of elected officials like the President and Members of Parliament, the Bill should specifically provide that they show evidence of having declared their assets and liabilities before they are sworn into office.
Mr. Quayson also noted that the Bill should also specifically provide that elected or appointed public officers to whom Article 286 applies shall not be entitled to any emoluments or benefits of the office until they have complied with Article 286(1) (a).
The CHRAJ Deputy Commissioner said the nation deserves a robust CoPO Law that is capable of stemming corruption and unethical practices in the Public Office and helping secure for ourselves the Public Office we want.