Holds validation confab to evaluate existing legislations
The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) will on Friday, January 22, 2021 hold a validation conference to assess and evaluate laws that are hindering and undermining the effective fight against corruption in public and private institutions.
According to a press release from the LACC, these laws and acts of the National Legislature, including the Statute of Limitation in pursuing criminal actions against public officials and the weaknesses in the criminal Laws, have over the years restrained cases of corruption especially against public officials.
“The LACC Board of Commissioners (BoC) has done an extensive review of several Acts of the National Legislature and Criminal Law and urgently seeks to amend, aimed at strengthening the law to ensure successful criminal prosecutions,” the Commission said in a statement. “These include the Whistle Blower and the Witness Protection Act and the need to establish a fast-track Corruption Court, as well as amendment to the Code of Conduct that will grant unto the LACC needed Legislative and Judicial authority that will ensure and compel all public officials to declare their assets in keeping with law.”
The LACC adds that it views the Act that established it as restraining, and that it does not empower the Commission with absolute power and authority to prosecute public officials caught in the web of financial misappropriation and corruption.
“The Act limits the authority to the Ministry of Justice, stating that the LACC shall coordinate with the Ministry of Justice in the prosecution of cases. The Act gives the LACC limited rights to prosecute cases of corruption only if the Ministry of Justice fails to proceed with criminal action within three calendar months of the receipt of the request to prosecute.
“The LACC is seriously concerned about the statute of limitation, especially criminal cases involving theft, embezzlement, misappropriations and general corruption of waste and abuse, if such cases are not prosecuted within the statutory period of two years,” the Commission said.
“The LACC considers it expedient, absolutely necessary and in the best interest of government to separate the Whistle Blower and the Witness Protection Act,” the release added.
The LACC also says it has observed over the years that the Legislature, which is the drafter of the Law and the Judiciary, which interprets the Law, are not always in compliance with the Assets Declaration Law as stipulated in the Code of Conduct.
The LACC stressed the urgent need to amend these two Acts (Whistle Blower and the Witness Protection) with the view of strengthen them and eliminating ambiguous terminology that will ensure strict compliance and, where need be, specific penalties for defaults by senior public officials. The validation process is expected to bring together professionals from diverse backgrounds and other integrity institutions in Liberia.