By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie
The national Code of Conduct which is expected to be passed into law to set out standards of behavior and conduct required of all public officials including employees of government has failed to address one of the controversial subjects in the country-that is “same sex marriage”.
Montserrado County District #4 Representative, Henry Fahnbulleh, is questioning why the document has left out the issue of homosexuality since it is to be listed as a deviant behavior.
Speaking recently to Legislative reporters on the grounds of the Capitol Building after a public hearing on the draft Code of Conduct, the Unity Party (UP) lawmaker said while the Code of Conduct is being discussed, there is a need for the 53rd National Legislature to be clear on which areas deviant behavior would be placed in the draft bill that is already in committee room pending debate and passage by plenary.
For example, Rep. Fahnbulleh argued that if corruption, abuse of public office are deviant behaviors, it would be prudent for the lawmakers to state it and be clear to say whether sexual misconduct which includes homosexuality will be punishable under the law.
Fahnbulleh who chairs the House Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs pointed out that in the execution of government’s policies, especially those who are public officials, including the legislature; there is also a need for the Legislature to be clear on which category they are going to place deviant behavior.
Fahnbulleh, also a diplomat stressed the need for the legislature to pass laws that would quantify Liberian values because he believes there is a need for the Governance Commission (GC) to proffer a way forward for dealing with issues of homosexuality.
He has already vowed to insist on the presenters to give them (lawmakers) their stance on some of those moral issues because these are moral judgments that are discussed and brought into the public, and so before its passage, it is important that Legislators be careful on how to regulate the behavior of people in the public sector.
While we are attempting to legislate decency to do what we need to quantify Liberian values, we need to be clear in the definition of Liberian values by knowing whether we equate Liberian values to African values as well as European values,” the UP lawmaker asserted.
The Code of Conduct addresses sexual harassment, honesty, bribery, casual gifts, token gifts, care of state property, respect for other’s rights, consumption of alcohol, discrimination at work place among several items outlined.
Example, Section 1.3.2 of the draft bill, which speaks about bribery, prohibits public employee from taking reward or inducement for doing or forbearing to do anything in respect of any matter or transaction within the scope of their official duties.
Section 1.3.10 of the bill also speaks against casual gifts: “Any present or gift, unsolicited and or a modest scale giving to a public official or employee of government, which is not connected to their official duties or giving during seasonal celebrations which does not exceed US$ 200.00 in value.
The crafting of the code of conduct is in keeping with Article 90 (a)(b) and (c) of the 1986 constitution, which prevents elected, appointed or employed individuals severing in public offices from engaging in any other activities, which shall be against public, or constitute a conflict of interest.