The Anti-Corruption Amendment Act 2008 was sent back to the legislative committee in Parliament yesterday when it did not go through after its first and second readings.
The Amendment Act, instead of going through its usual procedures by going into the third reading, was committed to the legislative committee which is scheduled to start today to look at the Bill.
Explaining the purpose of the Bill to MPs, Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abdul Serry Kamal said the Act was “to provide for the establishment of an independent Anti- Corruption Commission for the prevention, investigation, prosecution and punishment of corruption and corrupt practices.”
He further explained that the existing ACC law was passed by the former Government in 2000 and over the last eight years, several inadequacies were found, which necessitated the enactment of a new Anti-Corruption Act as it seeks to correct or make provisions that were inactive in the existing bill.
“We will now see that there is an elaborate procedure for the appointment of the commissioner and deputy and the advisory committee and so on,” Mr Kamal said. “The Bill also has or created more offences… and quite apart from that it establishes the ACC as an independent corporate body.
There have been complaints that it could not be under the Attorney General, so today we are moving in a different direction to allow the commission to exist on its own.”
Mr Kamal also said the Bill gave the ACC independent powers of prosecution and also dispenses preliminary investigations so “when an offence is committed, the ACC can immediately charge the person and take them to court and we will eliminate the usual proceedings which are called the committal proceedings, which are all designed to expedite the conclusion of ACC cases.”
He stated that the power to terminate proceedings was a residual power always remaining with the Attorney General to terminate proceedings that are not convenient and in the public interest.
The Bill also provides for a remedy to those unlawfully prosecuted. Reacting to the Bill, Hon Dr Brima Kamanda of the opposition SLPP said the SLPP fully supported the bill and hoped that when it would have been passed, it would be judiciously used and not as a witch hunt He also asked when the law shall take effect.
The minister replied that the bill was not going to be retrospective as it will take effect after it has been approved by the President.