Parliament has passed the Criminal Offences Amendment Bill 2020.
The bill among others changes the status of corruption from a misdemeanour to a felony.
That means engaging in a corrupt act could come with a sentence of between 12 and 25 years, instead of the about 2 years a misdemeanour carries.
As the House passed the bill, Ranking Member on Parliament’s Constitution and Legal Affairs Committee, Inusah Fuseini said the new law sends a signal to the public that corruption is now a high-risk offence.
“This thing is enhancing sensitives and is changing misdemeanour into felonies and some of these things will qualify into the realm of the special prosecutors because there is that law. Per that law, we did not put some of the things here
“But right now, I would have wished that a lot more people, particularly those of us who are in the field now today, understand it because it also talks about corrupting of voters,” he said.
The outgoing Tamale Central MP said it is a very serious matter and his colleagues campaigning for votes in the December election must be wary they are not corrupting the voters.
“I think also that we have to be conversant with all these things and so I support this but I wanted a larger chamber full of members who will understand the implication of what we are doing,” he said.
Mr Fuseini added, “Criminal legislation will always require a number of people should be aware of what we are doing otherwise some people when they hear this may not understand the impart.
“Of course we all know that we have signed onto convections and requires us to make sure our laws comply with them but there are very serious issues removing misdemeanours and making them felonies.”
He said he supports that idea as it is in the spirit of ensuring that corruption is punished adequately.
On his part, MP for Wa West Joseph Yileh Chireh expressed concern about the low number of MPs in the House when the bill was passed.
“We may be consistent with our international congregations in fighting corruption. Both the Convergence Union and the US Converging against corruption requires a member state.
“It requires legislation to make corruption a felony because of the gravity of that offence because it has been admitted that, corruption deprives or denies a nation of the required resources for development.
“So persons who engage in corruption must be punished in a way that serves as a deterrent to others and make them face heavy sentences for them to know that corruption is a high risk.”
He said under the sanction regime, corruption is a misdemeanour and a person can go to jail for corruption for a period as low as two years.
“It is thought and believed that corruption is not acceptable and this is one of the reasons why our fight against corruption is succeeding. The intendment of this amendment is to ensure that corruption becomes an offence so we support to send a message that even we as politicians are changing the sanction regime to make corruption high-risk activities,” he said.
Mr Yileh Chireh said “by engaging in the amendment the message must be clear to all of us that Parliament has taken the decision that a person can go to jail for corruption for a period not less than 12 years and not more than 25 years.
“And that must be clear to all of us politicians and public officials and trusted with the responsibility of protecting the public first.
“So I support the attempt by the attorney general to have this sanction regime in the criminal and other offences act amended to reflect our commitment under the international law.”