OccupyGhana in a statement said it is essential, both to preserve confidence in the judiciary and in the Attorney-General’s Department
Pressure group OccupyGhana has called on the Attorney General, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, and the investigating authorities, particularly the Ghana Police Service, currently considering the materials submitted in the judicial corruption scandal, to expedite their review of evidence and commence prosecution where appropriate, without further delay.
The evidence obtained by Mr. Anas Aremeyaw Anas in respect of the judges, court staff, police personnel and others accused of bribery-related offences is of the utmost seriousness, and requires swift prosecution or clearance to ensure confidence in the criminal justice system.
OccupyGhana in a statement said it is essential, both to preserve confidence in the judiciary and in the Attorney-General’s Department, that prosecutions proceed in the shortest possible time, once all the evidence has been gathered and assessed.
According to the group, it understands that the relevant authorities have all the video evidence setting out the full details known to Mr. Anas Aremeyaw Anas concerning the persons depicted in his video evidence. It is incumbent on the investigating and prosecuting authorities to review the evidence, charge those considered culpable, clear those considered not culpable, and bring those accused before the Court forthwith.
The pressure group emphasised the particular need for transparency in this matter, and for the public to be reassured that equal treatment is being given to members of the judiciary, court staff, police officers and others who stand accused. There can be no special allowances for some individuals purely by virtue of their positions.
OccupyGhana® further requests that the Attorney-General’s Department and investigating authorities announce promptly whether any arrests have been made, whether any individuals have been invited to write statements, whether any individuals have been bailed and/or whether and when any court hearings have been scheduled. If there is any person who stands accused in respect of whom there has been an assessment that there is either insufficient evidence to mount a prosecution or some other reason for them to be cleared, the public must be informed of this promptly.
Again, transparency and expedition in this process are essential to preserve public confidence.
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It is also not acceptable for the Attorney-General’s Department or any investigating authorities to seek to delay prosecutions due to the current Judicial Council and Chief Justice’s Committee proceedings – if this is a current strategy. Those procedures set out in the Constitution and the Judicial Service Act (as the case may be) provide mechanisms for the impeachment and removal of judges from office. These are entirely separate and distinct processes from the investigation and prosecution of individuals for suspected criminal offences.
"We are fortified and emboldened in our position by the words of Dotse J (as he then was) in Anarfi v. Arthur [2001-2002] 1 GLR 364 that “any attempt to link the institution of a civil claim on the success or otherwise of a criminal action [and vice versa] would be an attempt to whittle down the fundamental rights of the individual as has been enshrined in our Constitution.” The people of Ghana are the ‘victims’ in these matters, and any attempt to create an artificial link the between disciplinary matters and criminal prosecution is a violation of the rights of Ghanaians to see that justice is done in accordance with the law.
What is more, from the Judicial Secretary's Press Release dated 11th September 2015, we have become aware that two of the judges caught on camera, namely Yaw Ansu-Gyeabour and Alhaji Mohammed Ahmed Mustapha retired from the bench before the story broke and therefore cannot be subjected to the current impeachment and removal proceedings. We are at a loss to understand why, at the very least, they are yet to be invited even for questioning by the Ghana Police Service.
"The matters depicted in the Anas video appear to disclose the commission of criminal acts of the utmost seriousness. The alleged commission of such criminal act, although characterised as ‘misdemeanours’ under the Criminal Offences Act, are in fact punishable by terms of imprisonment of up to 25 years with hard labour under the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) Act. It is therefore essential that such serious offences are prosecuted carefully, yet with expedition, in order to ensure that justice is not only done, but seen by the public to be done.
"OccupyGhana respectfully recommends that where major investigations are under way under the glare of the public spotlight, it is incumbent on the Attorney-General’s Department and/or relevant investigating authorities to provide the public with regular and detailed updates on the progress of such investigations, including providing a timetable for the process. Full details of any individuals invited, arrested and/or charged, as well as those who are cleared of any wrongdoing, should be made public.
The current silence on the part of the Attorney-General’s Department and investigating authorities is unacceptable and must be addressed immediately. A full public statement on the progress of this investigation is required now, the statement said.