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US Ambassador urges Ghana to disband vigilante groups

By
Iddi Yire/Godfred Ansah, GNA

Accra, July 18, GNA –
Mr Robert P. Jackson, the United Sates Ambassador to Ghana has urged the
government of Ghana to take concrete steps to rein vigilante groups who answer
to powerful individuals rather than the of rule law.

He said President Nana
Addo Akufo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s administration rode to power on a message of
fighting corruption; and therefore, he was encouraged by the President’s
unequivocal declaration in April that impunity would not be tolerated under his
watch.

Mr Jackson made the
appeal in his address during the inauguration of the African Centre on Law and
Ethics at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA)
in Accra.

The Centre was
established by the GIMPA Faculty of Law in collaboration with the Fordham Law
School and the law firm of White and Case.

He said the Centre
could transform judicial and legal ethics – nurturing a model of moral and
ethical integrity that could be replicated throughout West Africa.

Speaking on ethics and
corruption, Mr Jackson said some amount of self-examination could have
prevented the shameful 2015 bribery scandal involving dozens of judges and
judicial staff in Ghana.

“Not one of whom, I
feel compelled to point out, has been brought to justice,” the Ambassador
declared.

“As the exposé by Mr
Anas shows, more often than not, it is not introspection that shines the light
on our shortcomings – it is inspection from outside.

“Nevertheless,
instilling the principles of ethics, transparency and accountability into the
training of young legal professionals – as this Centre plans to do – will go a
long way,” he added.

Adding that he
believed this sort of healthy self-awareness could take root here in Ghana.

Mr Jackson said within
the next few weeks or months, Ghana’s Parliament would be set to debate a bill
being crafted by the Office of the Attorney General (AG) that would create an
Office of Special Prosecutor focusing on corruption – related crimes.

He said the US Embassy
was sponsoring a handful of Attorneys from the AG’s Office to travel to New
York and Washington, so that they could study special prosecution offices in
the US and incorporate best practices in Ghana.

“My hope is that, once
established, the Special Prosecutor might be granted the freedom and latitude
to prosecute cases independent of political and social influence.

“My hope is that no
one, including not one of the judges implicated by Anas, would be too powerful
or influential to escape prosecutor’s scrutiny,” he said.

He said the US
welcomes Ghana’s moves towards judicial professionalism; stating that “Through
our Security Governance Initiative, and working in partnership with the
Attorney General and the USAID, we hope to implement a case tracking”.

“Courts will be able
to use this system to bring transparency and efficiency to the legal process,
reducing opportunities to collect ‘facilitation fees’ in exchange for
expediting or burying cases.”

Professor Philip Duku
Osei, the Deputy Rector, GIMPA, recounted that GIMPA had made significant
progress since its establishment in 1961 as one of the key strategic
institutions to develop the public administrative system, to provide civil
servants with administrative and professional competence, and to plan and
administer national, regional and local services.

He said the Institute,
which attained a fully-fledge university status in 2004, would from next
academic year introduce the School of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

Mr Ernest Kofi Abotsi,
Dean, GIMPA Faculty of Law, said GIMPA was the first university in Ghana to set
up a Centre for Law and Ethics; stating that in the midst of ethics, corruption
and graft do not thrive.

“Law doesn’t work
where ethics is absent,” the Dean said.

Dr Nightingale
Rukuba-Ngaiza, Senior Counsel, Africa, Middle East and North Africa Practice
Group, World Bank Group, said the work of the Centre would transcend the legal
profession to other areas such as good governance and the public sector.

Mrs Justice Georgina
Theodora Wood, former Chief Justice, who chaired the function, said the Legal
Ethics Training Programme would offer law students a unique opportunity to
discuss legal ethics and standards of professional practice with practitioners
and legal experts from Ghana and around the world.

She said legal ethics
was crucial for distinguishing between what was right and wrong.

Mrs Elizabeth Black,
Global Manager of Social Responsibility, White and Case, said legal ethics was
crucial to a healthy functioning society.

GNA

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