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Ghana

Anti-Corruption Transparency (GH0021)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Ghana Action Plan 2017-2019

Action Plan Cycle: 2017

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Parliament, Attorney General’s Department, Police Criminal Investigation Department, Bureau for National Investigation, Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice, and Economic and Organized Crime Office

Support Institution(s): Office of the Head of Civil Service, Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) and Centre for Democratic Development (CDD)

Policy Areas

Anti-Corruption, Anti-Corruption Institutions, Asset Disclosure, Legislation & Regulation, Whistleblower Protections

IRM Review

IRM Report: Ghana Implementation Report 2017-2019, Ghana Design Report 2017-2019

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

What is the public problem that the commitment will address?: One of the major strategies initiated by the Government of Ghana to address corruption is a National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACAP) developed and adopted as a non-partisan strategy for a ten-year implementation period. To minimize the misuse of entrusted power for private gain, there is the need to pass all outstanding anti-corruption enhancing bills and also ensure that anti-corruption institutions and quasi security agencies report on their activities. For example, asset declaration by public office holders in its current form is not meaningful when it comes to transparency. Public office holders need to be transparent when it comes to asset declaration. The key issues regarding asset declaration by public office holders relate to asset declaration, verification, and publication.; What is the commitment?: The commitment is in two parts namely: gradually amend Asset Declaration Act (Conduct of Public Office Holders Bill) to enable verification and publication of assets declared by public office holders; and ensure investigative bodies (like Criminal Investigation Department -CID and Bureau of National Investigation -BNI), anti-corruption institutions (like CHRAJ), and quasi security institutions (like EOCO) charged to investigate corruption related issues to make public reports of their investigations.; How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?: Making public reports on corruption related investigations will let the public know the outcome of corruption related investigations. It will also help citizens to know actions taken by the government to address issues of corruption.; Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?: The commitment is relevant to increasing the level of transparency by improving accessibility of information on corruption related investigations. It will also help to improve rules, regulations, and mechanisms to publicly hold government officials answerable to their actions.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

2. Anti-Corruption Transparency

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

‘One of the major strategies initiated by the Government of Ghana to address corruption is a National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) developed and adopted as a non-partisan strategy for a ten-year implementation period. To minimize the misuse of entrusted power for private gain, there is the need to pass all outstanding anti-corruption enhancing bills and also ensure that anti-corruption institutions and quasi security agencies report on their activities. For example, asset declaration by public office holders in its current form is not meaningful when it comes to transparency. Public office holders need to be transparent when it comes to asset declaration. The key issues regarding asset declaration by public office holders relate to asset declaration, verification, and publication. There is the need to gradually amend Asset Declaration Act (Conduct of Public Office Holders Bill) to enable verification and publication of assets declared by public office holders. There is also the need for investigative bodies (like Criminal Investigation Department -CID and Bureau of National Investigation -BNI), anti-corruption institutions (like CHRAJ), and quasi security institutions (like EOCO) charged to investigate corruption related issues to make public reports of their investigations.’

Milestones/Activities:

  • Attorney-General’s (AGs) Department and Parliament to ensure the amendment and passage of Conduct of Public Office Holders Bill to include thorough declaration and verification;
  • Investigative bodies (CID and BNI), anti-corruption institutions (like CHRAJ), and quasi security institutions (like EOCO) to periodically make public (publish on their websites) corruption related reports that have been generated (quarterly);
  • Attorney-General’s Department and Parliament to work together to pass the Witness Protection Bill;
  • Attorney-General’s Department and Parliament to work together to pass the Whistle Blower Amendment Bill;
  • Attorney-General’s Department to establish the OSP to promote investigations and prosecution of corruption offenders by December 2018.’

Start Date: November 2017

End Date: December 2018

Action plan is available in this link

Commitment Overview

Verifiability

OGP Value Relevance (as written)

Potential Impact

Completion

Did It Open Government?

Not specific enough to be verifiable

Specific enough to be verifiable

Access to Information

Civic Participation

Public Accountability

Technology & Innovation for Transparency & Accountability

None

Minor

Moderate

Transformative

Not Started

Limited

Substantial

Completed

Worsened

Did Not Change

Marginal

Major

Outstanding

2. Overall

Assessed at the end of action plan cycle.

Assessed at the end of action plan cycle.

Context and Objectives

The National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACAP) is the bedrock of Ghana’s campaign against corruption, which is spearheaded by the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in collaboration with many diverse partners. Speaking at a public event in October 2018, Reverend Philip Quayson, CHRAJ’s deputy commissioner, said that Ghana loses at least US$3 billion annually to corruption through public officials’ inflation of procurement contracts—a figure that the think tank IMANI-Africa alleges is about 300 percent of all aid to the country per annum. [11] In an interview with the IRM researcher, journalist and media expert, Fred Asiamah stated that the top five cases he has investigated in an independent civil society monitoring program account for an estimated 9.8 billion Ghana Cedis (roughly US$2 million).. [12] Other forms of corruption include embezzlement (ostensibly facilitated by a loose asset declaration regulatory framework) and nepotism along with abuses linking public and private actors, such as bribery, extortion, influence peddling, and fraud. [13]

The country’s global corruption ranking improved in 2018 after successive drops from 2015. [14] The final IRM End-of-Term Report for the NAP 2015–2017 identified inadequate reporting by only 56 of 325 (17 percent) of NACAP implementing partners and low levels of prosecution of high-profile cases. [15] Also at issue was the need to revise and pass the Public Office Holders Bill to provide for the verification and publication of asset declarations in the interests of transparency and accountability. High-profile investigations by private investigator-cum-journalist Anas Amereyaw Anas have renewed public interest in the state’s handling of corruption. However, journalists and investigators who do not possess his level of capital find it hard to access information from public sources to enable them to fight corruption. [16] Furthermore, the murder of Anas’s partner, Ahmed Husain Suale, in January 2019 by yet-unidentified killers indicates some hostility toward those who work to uncover corruption. Between this and inadequate government reporting, there is not enough publicly accessible information about corruption and anti-corruption in Ghana. In this context, this commitment has two broad aims: to improve access to information on corruption-related investigations and improve rules, regulations, and mechanisms to publicly hold government officials answerable to their actions.

To reduce corruption in the country, this commitment requires investigative bodies, anti-corruption institutions, and quasi-security institutions to periodically publish on their websites quarterly corruption-related reports. The second group of activities encompasses the passage of or/and amendment(s) to the Public Office Holders Bill, the Witness Protection Bill, and the Whistle Blower Bill.

This commitment is relevant to the OGP values of access to information and public accountability. The related milestone of publishing corruption-related reports on the websites of implementing agencies speaks to the OGP values of access to information. Most milestones aim at holding public officers accountable by strengthening public accountability mechanisms and setting up a government body to conduct prosecutions. The commitment is verifiable as written. Verifiability can be assessed by confirming that the amendment and passage of Conduct of Public Office Holders is approved, if the Whistleblowers Acts are approved, and if reports on corruption are published at the end of the action plan.

If fully implemented as written, this commitment contributes to solving the problem of generalized corruption in the country, although not to a full extent. Therefore, the potential impact of this commitment has been coded as “moderate.” In the IRM researcher’s opinion, several factors prevent this commitment from having a transformative potential impact.

First, focusing on policy frameworks alone is insufficient to tackle the outlined problem(s) holistically. Second, this commitment does not address some problems identified in the End-of-Term Report, including low levels of reporting and buy-in from relevant corruption NACAP-implementing institutions/partners and scanty details of investigations and prosecutions. None of the five milestones mention the regulations needed to operationalize pending legislation. [17] This means that the potential impact for this commitment is moderate because passing these bills into law will not itself bring the desired change to government practice on corruption, especially in the absence of political will at all levels to implement them. Also, the NAP does not specify any strategies to improve the reporting rates among anti-corruption institutions. It also does not stipulate that these reports should include details of high-profile persons charged with corruption that are most visible and have the greatest influence on public perceptions of corruption. Furthermore, the commitment as written seems to focus on certain types of corruption; it overlooks, for example, the inflation of public contracts. [18] While the text of the commitment neither explicitly specifies what the provisions will specifically target nor how information will be published, the commitment seeks to achieve improvements from previous initiatives to tackle corruption, such as the enactment and amendment of Witness Protection and Whistle Blower Protection Acts. As of April 2018, there was no evidence of a legal mechanism that would ensure the rights of whistleblowers, [19] and the previous instruments, such as the Whistleblowers Act, 2006 (Act 720), did not focus on witness protection. [20]

Publishing information on corruption through reports is a positive step toward enhancing public access to corruption information and makes this commitment relevant to access to information. Yet this data would by implication be best accessible to citizens who are IT proficient. [21]

The Public Office Holders Bill is anticipated to mandate asset verification to alter the current practice in which senior public officers declare their assets, and asset declarations are sealed into envelopes and can only be opened if the owner comes under investigation or the CHRAJ and chief justice make express requests for access, which is rare. [22] The non-verification of assets has thus far made it difficult to distinguish between assets that public officers have before assuming office and those that they acquire, legally and otherwise, during their respective tenures. It is hoped that the other two bills will reinforce the protection frameworks for citizens who report corruption. However, Fred Asiamah observed that inasmuch as each bill is useful, emphasis on passing them suggests that the government is using their absence as camouflage for its unwillingness to tackle corruption head-on.

The final activity proposes setting up the office of the special prosecutor (OSP) to investigate and prosecute corruption cases (the OSP Bill was passed in November 2017, [23] and Martin Amidu was appointed to the position in January 2018). [24] Amidu has a reputation for integrity stemming from his days as attorney general. Though his appointment met with some controversy relating to his membership of the opposition National Democratic Party, there is widespread hope that if the government gives his office the necessary support, it will help transform the fight against corruption in Ghana by ensuring the prosecution of high-profile cases that have cost the government significant financial losses and damaged its integrity.

Next steps

  • This commitment could be carried out in future action plans. Special emphasis could be placed on building on the passage of the legislation with the necessary supplementary regulations and resources to ensure a full implementation.
  • This commitment could be more ambitious by indicating how it will support NACAP partners to overcome infrequent reporting instead of just stating it as an objective. If underlying issues are not resolved, challenges to implementation are likely to persist. In addition to passing the stated laws, civil society could continue to pressure government to demonstrate political will to fight corruption by taking practical steps even before the bills are passed, like resourcing the OSP adequately.
  • It will be important to investigate low levels of reporting by NACAP-implementing partners and respond accordingly, including by intensifying sensitization on the importance of accurate and timely information.
[11] Caroline Boateng, 4 July 2018, ‘Ghana loses more than $3bn yearly through corruption’, Graphic Online, https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/politics/ghana-loses-more-than-3bn-yearly-through-corruption.html
[12] Interview with Frederick Asiamah, 1 February 2019.
[13] Vitus A. Azeem, ‘The Problem of Corruption in the Public Sector in Ghana’, 24 May 2009, Modern Ghana, https://www.modernghana.com/news/218100/the-problem-of-corruption-in-the-public-sector-in-ghana.html
[14] Corruption Perceptions Index 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019.
[15] “Ghana End-of-Term Report 2015–2017,” page 13.
[16] Frederick Asiamah (Corruption Watch) interview with IRM researcher, February 2019.
[18] Ghana News Agency, 26 August 2018, “Corruption eroding gains of gov’t intervention programmes – CHRAJ”, https://citinewsroom.com/2018/08/26/corruption-eroding-gains-of-govt-intervention-programmes-chraj/
[19]Pass ‘Witness Protection Law’ now – CHRAJ to government”, Ghana Web, 9 April 2018. https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Pass-Witness-Protection-Law-now-CHRAJ-to-government-641517#
[20] “Ghana enhances fight against corruption with passage of Witness Protection Law”, Africa News Radio, 11 July 2018. http://africanewsradio.com/ghana-enhances-fight-against-corruption-with-passage-of-witness-protection-law/
[21] The IRM researcher found no publicly available data on digital literacy levels in Ghana but the country has high mobile subscription rate of 34.7 million out of a population of approximately 30 million people.
[22] Interview with Frederick Asiamah, 1 February 2019.
[23] Given that the bill was passed at the very beginning of the NAP period, it seems very likely that the preparation was well underway by the time the NAP was formulated.
[24] ‘Parliament Passes Office of Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017’, 16 November 2017, http://www.ghana.gov.gh/index.php/media-center/news/4184-parliament-passes-office-of-special-prosecutor-bill-2017; ‘LI on Special Prosecutor Office finally laid’, 26 November 2018, https://www.myjoyonline.com/politics/2018/November-26th/li-on-special-prosecutor-office-finally-laid.php

IRM End of Term Status Summary

2. Anti-Corruption Transparency

Commitment text: One of the major strategies initiated by the Government of Ghana to address corruption is a National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) developed and adopted as a non-partisan strategy for a ten-year implementation period. To minimize the misuse of entrusted power for private gain, there is the need to pass all outstanding anti-corruption enhancing bills and also ensure that anti-corruption institutions and quasi security agencies report on their activities. For example, asset declaration by public office holders in its current form is not meaningful when it comes to transparency. Public office holders need to be transparent when it comes to asset declaration. The key issues regarding asset declaration by public office holders relate to asset declaration, verification, and publication. There is the need to gradually amend Asset Declaration Act (Conduct of Public Office Holders Bill) to enable verification and publication of assets declared by public office holders. There is also the need for investigative bodies (like Criminal Investigation Department -CID and Bureau of National Investigation -BNI), anti-corruption institutions (like CHRAJ), and quasi security institutions (like EOCO) charged to investigate corruption related issues to make public reports of their investigations.

Milestones/Activities:

  • Attorney-General’s (AGs) Department and Parliament to ensure the amendment and passage of Conduct of Public Office Holders Bill to include thorough declaration and verification;
  • Investigative bodies (CID and BNI), anti-corruption institutions (like CHRAJ), and quasi security institutions (like EOCO) to periodically make public (publish on their websites) corruption related reports that have been generated (quarterly);
  • Attorney-General’s Department and Parliament to work together to pass the Witness Protection Bill;
  • Attorney-General’s Department and Parliament to work together to pass the Whistle Blower Amendment Bill;
  • Attorney-General’s Department to establish the OSP to promote investigations and prosecution of corruption offenders by December 2018.

Editorial Note: For the full text of Ghana's 2017-2019 Action Plan please see: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/ghana-action-plan-2017-2019/

IRM Design Report Assessment

IRM Implementation Report Assessment

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant: Yes

o Access to Information

o Public Accountability

Potential impact: Moderate

Completion: Limited

Did it Open Government? Marginal

This commitment had two broad aims: to improve access to information on corruption related investigations and to improve the rules, regulations, and mechanisms that hold government officials publicly answerable to their actions. According to Reverend Philip Quayson, Deputy Commissioner of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice, which oversees the government’s national anticorruption campaign, corruption is a significant problem in Ghana that costs the state “at least US$3 billion annually.” [11] Ghana’s challenges with corruption include public officials’ inflation of procurement contracts and embezzlement. [12] These challenges are compounded by inadequate state reporting and prosecution of corruption cases, along with low levels of whistleblowing by Ghanaians. Some Ghanaians do not believe that they will be protected if they report corruption. [13]

This commitment had limited completion at the end of the action plan period. Parliament approved the establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor in November 2017, which was a significant accomplishment in the fight against corruption, and passed the Witness Protection Bill in August 2018. [14] However, only two of five commitment milestones were achieved. The government did not pass the Conduct of Public Office Holders (COPO) Bill, [15] or the Whistle Blower Amendment Bill, nor did investigative bodies and anticorruption institutions publish quarterly corruption related reports on their websites.

Intense civil society advocacy was instrumental in compelling government action against corruption through the passage of key legislation and creation of important structures. [16] According to the Centre for Democracy and Development, principal officers of the Office of the Special Prosecutor were put in place, but investigation and prosecution of corruption cases have since been hampered by slow disbursements, inadequate staffing and office space, and institutional mandate clashes and parallel investigations. [17]

According to the Auditor-General, the Special Prosecutor has worked with inadequate facilities and resources since his appointment. [18] Subsequent efforts to improve this situation have also been stalled for various reasons. [19] By December 2019, only 5.7 million Ghana cedis (approximately US $1 million) out of an allocated 180 million Ghana cedis (approximately US $31 million) had been disbursed to the Special Prosecutor. [20] According to the pressure group OccupyGhana and journalist, Frederick Asiamah who coordinates a Corruption Watch program, a lack of clarity about which public officers are required to declare their assets is a major hindrance to passing the COPO Bill. [21]

Overall, this commitment marginally changed government practices in access to information and public accountability. The establishment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor promised to usher in strong institutional support for anticorruption efforts, but this only led to marginal changes, as a result of inadequate resources. The government did not provide more information about corruption; journalists and independent investigators told the IRM that they continue to have difficulty obtaining such data. [22] While the Special Prosecutor’s biannual reports of cases that he was investigating or prosecuting have slightly improved public accountability, [23] he has issued several statements about the challenges faced in doing his job. [24] Provision of adequate resources and support would have increased this commitment’s influence on open government.

[11] Caroline Boateng, “Ghana loses more than $3bn yearly through corruption” (Graphic Online, 4 Jul. 2018), https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/politics/ghana-loses-more-than-3bn-yearly-through-corruption.html. See Titilope F. Ajayi, Ghana Design Report 2017-2019 (OGP, 1 Apr. 2021), 20, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/ghana-design-report-2017-2019/.
[12] Vitus A. Azeem, “The Problem of Corruption in the Public Sector in Ghana” (Modern Ghana, 24 May 2009), https://www.modernghana.com/news/218100/the-problem-of-corruption-in-the-public-sector-in-ghana.html.
[13] DeutscheWelle, “Why are Ghanaians reluctant whistleblowers?” (accessed 16 Apr. 2021), https://www.dw.com/en/why-are-ghanaians-reluctant-whistleblowers/a-19441793.
[14] Delali Adogla-Bessa, "Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill finally passed" (Citi 97.3 FM, 14 Nov. 2017), http://citifmonline.com/2017/11/office-of-the-special-prosecutor-bill-finally-passed/. The Act can be accessed at https://www.studocu.com/row/document/kaaf-university-college/law/mandatory-assignments/office-of-the-special-prosecutor-act-2017-act-959/4566610/view. The Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, was sworn into office in February 2018 (Flagstaff House Communications Bureau, “President Akufo-Addo swears in Martin Amidu as Special Prosecutor” (Ghana Web, 23 Feb. 2018), https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/President-Akufo-Addo-swears-in-Martin-Amidu-as-Special-Prosecutor-628717).
[15] In September 2019, the Commissioner of CHRAJ, Joseph Whittal, urged the government to pass the bill (Caroline Boateng, “Pass Public Officers Conduct Bill; CHRAJ urges govt” (Graphic Online, 2 Sep. 2019), https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/pass-public-officers-conduct-bill-chraj-urges-govt.html). In December 2019, Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia “assured that the government will collaborate with Parliament to pass the Conduct of Public Officers Bill into law, early next year, to rein in on corruption in public sector.” Jonathan Donkor, “Ghana: Govt Signals Passage of Conduct of Public Officers Law Next Year” (10 Dec. 2019), https://allafrica.com/stories/201912100616.html.
[16] Diverse members of the RTI Coalition, interview by IRM researcher, 2016 and 2019. See also Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, The Right to Information: Ghana’s Journey (1992−2019) (Accra: Aug. 2019), https://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/download/1570075247RTI%20GHANAs%20JOURNEY%20(1992%20-%202019).pdf.
[17] Dr. Kojo Pumpuni Asante (Dir. for Advocacy and Policy Engagement, CDD-Ghana, on behalf of Corruption Watch), “An assessment of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, one year on” at a Roundtable Discussion on One Year of the OSP (Coconut Grove Hotel, Accra: 13 May 2019), https://www.cddgh.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/OSP-AFTER-ONE-YEAR_ASSESSMENT-1.pdf.
[18] GhanaWeb, “OSP can’t operate efficiently in 3-bedroom apartment – Domelevo” (GhanaianTimes, 7 Nov. 2019), https://www.ghanaiantimes.com.gh/osp-cant-operate-efficiently-in-3-bedroom-apartment-domelevo/.
[19] Julius Yao Petetsi, “AMA action stalls work on OSP office complex” (GhanaianTimes, 10 May 2019), https://www.ghanaiantimes.com.gh/ama-action-stalls-work-on-osp-office-complex/.
[20] David Apinga, “Special Prosecutor has received only GH¢5.7m out of GH¢180m allocation – Lawyer” (The Ghana Report, 12 Dec. 2019), https://www.theghanareport.com/osp-receives-just-ghc5-7m-out-of-ghc180m-allocation/.
[21] “OccupyGhana® demands assets and liabilities declaration by over 40,000 affected public officers” http://www.occupygh.org/media-release/occupyghana-demands-assets-and-liabilities-declaration-by-over-40000-affected-public-officers/. In a press statement, they state that past practice has been to focus on the public offices named in article 286 of the 1992 constitution to the neglect of many others who fall in ambit of purpose of declaration but are not typically included. Frederick Asiamah (Corruption Watch), interview by IRM researcher, Feb. 2019.
[22] Asiamah, interview.
[23] Office of the Special Prosecutor of the Republic of Ghana, “Publications” (accessed 17 Apr. 2021), https://osp-ghgov.org/publications/.

Commitments

  1. Open Contracting and Contract Monitoring

    GH0020, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  2. Anti-Corruption Transparency

    GH0021, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  3. Beneficial Ownership

    GH0022, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  4. Fiscal Transparency and Accountability

    GH0023, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  5. Extractives Sector Transparency

    GH0024, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  6. Right to Information

    GH0025, 2017, Access to Information

  7. Civic Participation and Accountability

    GH0026, 2017, Fiscal Openness

  8. Technology and Innovation

    GH0027, 2017, Access to Information

  9. Starred commitment Open Contracting

    GH0014, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  10. RTI

    GH0015, 2015, Access to Information

  11. Citizen’S Participation

    GH0016, 2015, Public Participation

  12. Fiscal Openness

    GH0017, 2015, Legislation & Regulation

  13. Starred commitment Revenue Management

    GH0018, 2015, Legislation & Regulation

  14. Open Data

    GH0019, 2015, Access to Information

  15. Fiscal Responsibility

    GH0001, 2013, Fiscal Openness

  16. Fiscal Transparency

    GH0002, 2013, Capacity Building

  17. Right to Information

    GH0003, 2013, Access to Information

  18. Human Rights and Anti-Corruption

    GH0004, 2013, Anti-Corruption

  19. Extractive Sector Revenue Management

    GH0005, 2013, Anti-Corruption

  20. Investment Oversight

    GH0006, 2013, Anti-Corruption

  21. Citizen Participation

    GH0007, 2013, Capacity Building

  22. Code of Conduct Bill

    GH0008, 2013, Anti-Corruption

  23. Audit Reports

    GH0009, 2013, Anti-Corruption

  24. National Broadcasting

    GH0010, 2013, Civic Space

  25. e-Immigration

    GH0011, 2013, Access to Information

  26. Financial Management

    GH0012, 2013, Access to Information

  27. Starred commitment Policy Portal

    GH0013, 2013, Access to Information

Open Government Partnership