hana’s Special Prosecutor has said the country is aware of the antidote to corruption but not ready to swallow the pill.
“We know the cure to the malaise,” Mr Kissi Agyebeng said In a speech titled: “Corruption and Justice: Where Does Ghana Stand?”, but added: “We are unwilling to take the medication fully.”
Mr. Agyebeng said corruption has become an “unruly bride” resisting “agreeable domestication”.
Ghana has been stuck at the same score of 43 on the Corruption Perception Index for the past four years.
Mr. Agyebeng acknowledged commendable efforts such as the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan and the establishment of his office. However, he emphasized that these endeavors have yet to translate into tangible progress, likening Ghana’s situation to a spinning gyroscope, entrenched despite significant efforts.
The Special Prosecutor lamented the inefficacy of anti-corruption initiatives, questioning the commitment to genuine change and attributing hesitancy to a lack of clarity about eradicating corruption.
Mr. Agyebeng underscored the pivotal role of a just society in combating corruption, arguing that without untainted scales of justice, anti-corruption endeavors would prove futile.
He identified the absence of truth and integrity as the foundation of corruption, emphasizing the need to prioritize both within legal institutions.
The speech also addressed public perceptions of anti-corruption institutions being compromised by political influence and impunity.
Mr. Agyebeng acknowledged skepticism toward the judiciary, viewed as part of the same system as the government, emphasizing the necessity of addressing these perceptions to rebuild public trust.
Concluding his address, Mr. Agyebeng proposed concrete steps to strengthen the fight against corruption. These included entrenching anti-corruption institutions in the Constitution, expanding their powers, protecting them from political interference and reprisals, ensuring adequate resources and true judicial independence, establishing a specialized anti-corruption court, and providing competitive salaries for legal officers. Additionally, he advocated for fostering a culture of truth and integrity within these institutions.
Ghana scored 43 out of a clean score of 100 and ranked 70th out of 180 countries and territories included in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2023 released on Tuesday, 30th January 2024 by Transparency International (TI).
This marks the fourth consecutive year of stagnation in Ghana’s anti-corruption efforts, as indicated by the CPI.
The CPI 2023 scores and ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption. In the case of Ghana, the CPI draws upon nine data sources that capture the assessment of experts and business executives on several corrupt behaviors in the public sector.
It uses a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
These perceptions are largely fueled by experiences of corruption and a perceived lack of commitment from officialdom to address the issue decisively.
Ghana, with a score of 43, ranked 8th out of 49 countries in SSA, which were included in the index, alongside Benin (43) and Senegal (43). Ghana with a score of 43 performed better than 39 other Sub-Saharan African countries including Burkina Faso (41), South Africa (41), Côte d’Ivoire (40), Tanzania (40), and Lesotho (39). Mauritius (51), Namibia (49), Sao Tome, and Principe (45) performed better than Ghana.
According to TI, the (CPI) scores for Africa this year reveal a mixed picture, with some notable advances in a few nations.
The majority of African countries, however, continued to perform poorly, preserving the region’s continuously low average score of 33 out of 100 from prior years.
Ninety percent of Sub-Saharan African nations received a score of less than fifty.
The top performers in the region were Seychelles (71), followed by Cabo Verde (64), Botswana (59), and Rwanda (53). Sudan (20), Equatorial Guinea (17), South Sudan (13), and Somalia (11) had the lowest scores.
Under the theme for the CPI 2023 – “Corruption and Justice”, Ghana’s stagnated score highlights a global trend of deteriorating justice systems which is reducing the accountability of public officials and, therefore, allowing corruption to thrive.
The connection is reinforced by Ghana’s performance in the Rule of Law Index produced by the World Justice Project, which demonstrates a concerning decline. In the 2015 Rule of Law Index, Ghana scored 0.60 and ranked 34, but by 2023, Ghana’s score had decreased to 0.55, with a corresponding drop in ranking to 61.
To fight corruption, the Ghana Integrity Initiative is recommending the following:
• The Executive should urgently take steps to lay the Conduct of Public Officers’ Bill in Parliament ensuring that provisions on assets declaration require verification and come with severe sanctions for non-compliance while GII also calls on the Legislature to attach an equal level of urgency to its timely passage.
• The Executive and the Legislature must take steps to bridge the legal gaps necessary for the prosecution of selected corruption cases outside our current legal framework. These anti-corruption frameworks include unexplained wealth, influence peddling, and all aspects of the UNCAC, among others.
• The government must give the justice system the resources and transparency needed to effectively punish all corruption offenses and provide checks and balances on power.
Where necessary, they must also introduce better procedures and laws to help justice institutions shield themselves from and target corrupt acts.
• Laws that criminalize defamation or give judges discretion to award crippling compensation in libel cases inhibit the media from investigating and reporting suspected criminality and should be reformed.
Journalists must be able to comment fairly on legal proceedings and report suspected or actual corruption or bias.
• The Judicial Service should institute limited immunity for judges in matters related to judicial duties while excluding immunity in corruption or criminal cases.
• Expand, strengthen, and increase knowledge of the public on the Public Relations and Complaint Unit (PRCU) of the Judicial Services.
This will ensure a confidential and rigorous whistleblower policy for reporting suspected breaches, ensuring the involvement of lawyers, court users, prosecutors, police, media, and civil society.