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Ghana is losing the fight against corruption – Justice Emile Short

Former Chairperson of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice, (CHRAJ), Justice Francis Emile Short says it appears Ghana is losing the fight against corruption.

He says while the required political will to fight the canker is absent, state institutions entrusted to enforce the laws are themselves immersed in the act, agreeing with Kenyan Professor Patrick Otieno Lumumba that corruption be made a crime against humanity.

Speaking at the public release of the Ghana Afrobarometer Round 7 findings in Accra by the Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Justice Short said the trend is worrying but the society appears to accept it as the norm.

“It seems to me that we are losing the fight against corruption. The statistics show that even though there was a slight decrease from 2014 to 2017, if you take the period 2002 and 2017, there is an increase in the level of corruption, especially among the public service institutions – the police and the judiciary. And this is a serious indictment on our state institutions which are responsible for enforcing the laws and making sure that the rule of law is applied.”

He said the situation brings to mind how well successive governments have dealt with the issue of corruption.

“I think that not enough has been done and for a variety of reasons, like the lack of political will in dealing with the problem, and also the lack of accountability especially among people in the upper echelon of the society.”

Among other key and interesting findings presented by Daniel Armah-Attoh, Afrobarometer Project Manager for Anglophone West Africa, the survey established that:

  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of Ghanaians want corrupt officials prosecuted and, if found guilty, forced to return stolen funds, jailed, and publicly named and shamed. About one-fifth (22%) favour government retrieval of stolen funds without prosecution, while one in 10 (9%) would opt for prosecution without retrieval of stolen funds
  • Six in 10 Ghanaians (59%) say “most” or “all” police officials are corrupt, and substantial proportions say the same about judges and magistrates (38%), national government officials (35%), and other public leaders. Perceptions of corruption in the private sector are somewhat lower
  • The proportion of Ghanaians who think the government has performed “very well” or “fairly well” in fighting corruption more than doubled between 2014 and 2017, from 25% to 60%. After more than a decade of declining approval ratings, this puts popular approval near the 2002 high of 63%

And according to Justice Short, only a small percentage of the many allegations of corruption in the country over the past 24/36 months have actually resulted in prosecution, while governments also fail to dedicate adequate resources to fight corruption.

He said a lot more needs to be done in the fight against corruption, such as strengthening the weak anti-corruption institutions, saying appointments of patronage and political affiliation rather than meritocracy, is a contributor to the weak institutions.

He called for a lot more advocacy on the cost and impact of corruption such as the denial of social services and amenities like hospitals, sufficient schools to eradicate schools under trees, and public toilets for the over 80 percent of Ghanaians without access to decent public toilets, could drive the issue home for the needed attention.

Pointing to the multi-party system of democracy being practiced as a big time promoter of corruption, Justice Short said “political parties collect bribes, and when they are in government, they have to use state resources to recoup their campaign financing. And it’s a cycle.”

“In the same way, our politics is being organized in such a way that it’s promoting vigilantism, because people’s expectations are not being met, the politicians are not telling the people the truth. They are raising expectations beyond realism, and therefore people have resorted to all kinds of illegal activities.”

Justice Short said there is need for radical institutional reforms to reverse the trend, otherwise research after research will yield the same or worse corruption results.

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