LACC Wants Teeth To Bite

By Alva M. Wolokolie

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has re-submitted to the Liberian Senate a Bill to amend certain provisions of an Act to establish the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).

In a communication to the Senate yesterday at its regular session, President Sirleaf said she has determined that it is imperative to vigorously fight against corruption and that the Commission be further strengthened by the grant of direct but non-exclusive powers to prosecute cases involving corruption and related offenses.

When enacted into law, it is expected that those amendments would enable the LACC to act independently in deciding which cases should be moved forward to the courts and when the most opportune time would be to do so.

The Act would also among other things give the grant of direct prosecutorial powers which would strengthen the autonomy of the Commission, insulate the LACC from reliance on an external entity of government, and help dispel notions that decisions to prosecute or not to prosecute are politically motivated.

The Liberian leader however requested the timely consideration of the Senate to enact into law this important legislation that will assist the national effort to combat corruption in government and the society at large.

After the reading of the communication, a motion was made that the President’s request should be accepted and turn over the Senate Standing Committee on Judiciary Chair by Sinoe County Senator Cllr. Joseph Nagbe for advise on the matter.

It may be recalled that the government of Liberia, cognizant of the need to address the challenges posed by corruption which have plagued the Liberian society, created the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission in 2008 to investigate and prosecute persons and entities determined to be involved in corrupt practices.

However, the current Act establishing the Commission does not give direct prosecutorial powers to the LACC without reference to the Ministry of Justice and without a wait period of three months after submission of matters by the Commission to the Ministry of Justice.