CHRAJ has lost its way and voice in fight against corruption – Emile Short

The former Commissioner of CHRAJ, Justice Emile Short, says the Commission appears to have lost its way and its voice as far as its anti-corruption mandate is concerned.

Justice Short said when he was Commissioner, the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), proactively investigated instances or allegations of corruption even without  complaints.

CHRAJ still has that mandate but unfortunately, he said, “its power to initiate an investigation, that proactive power, has not been exercised for quite some time.”  

He was speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Thursday on the back of an IMANI-OccupyGhana forum held on Wednesday to discuss the state of corruption in the country and effective measures to deal with it.

Corruption is widely believed to have reached alarming levels in the country and anti-corruption agencies such as CHRAJ have been accused of doing little to change the situation.

Justice Emile Short says it seems to him CHRAJ has not proactively exercised its power to investigate corruption.

He, however, maintained that the Commission’s mandate needs to change if it is to effectively contribute to the fight against corruption.

Justice Short said the commission does not have the power to mount criminal prosecutions against persons it finds to have engaged in corrupt activities.

Even though the Commission under his tutelage investigated high profile persons, including sitting Ministers of state and in some cases recommended their prosecution, “the prosecution never happened.”

“So I have always advocated that the anti-corruption mandate of CHRAJ should be hived off from CHRAJ and we have a strong, effective, independent anti-corruption agency – like we have in many other countries – which is properly resourced, have the necessary skilled personnel to do investigations and to mount prosecutions, they should have powers of arrest and prosecution.”

“CHRAJ as it is at the moment, is ill-equipped to fight corruption,” he asserted.

Wednesday’s forum saw outspoken lawyer Ace Ankomah give eloquent testimony to the existence of adequate laws to fight corruption but regretted that the citizenry had acted together to set the laws aside whilst corruption festered.

Dr. Esi Ansah of Ashesi University was concerned about the emergence of new entrepreneurs and businessmen who buy influential persons on both sides of the political divide as well as the media.

This she said makes it practically impossible for such entrepreneurs to be held accountable.

Joy FM’s Manasseh said any adult who says corruption has not become a cancerous tumor in Ghana is either a fool, a crook or a beneficiary of it. He said the time had come for the populace to speak up for silence is no longer an option.

Pastor Mensa Otabil delivered the keynote address, asking President John Mahama to lead the crusade against corruption.

Contributing to the discussion, Justice Emile Short agreed with Dr. Otabil.

“I think the government, the president in particular, must lead this national crusade; must make sure that there transparency and accountability, people are held accountable. At the moment I don’t think that there is sufficient accountability of people who are implicated in corruption,” he said.

The former CHRAJ Commissioner added, “The president and the government must demonstrate a strong political will to mount the kind of crusade that for example the president of China has mounted against his own officials and the public has to see that we are taking corruption seriously, that people no matter level social status they occupy  are being held accountable, they are being put before court and they are being investigated and prosecuted effectively and they are being jailed and when that happens their identities should be made known to the public.”

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