Introduction of ALAC
The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the local chapter of Transparency International (TI), has established an Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC) in Ghana. This was partly in response to several calls by the public through so many workshops organized by the GII and also through surveys by the GII and other civil society organizations to put in place a mechanism to enable victims and witnesses of corruption to properly lodge their complaints. In July 2005, a research termed “Voice of the People” Survey (Southern Ghana) by the GII revealed that corruption is rife in Ghana. In the survey it was identified that over 87% of Respondents were unconcerned about reporting about incidence of corruption.
ALACs were first pioneered by Transparency International (TI) in Eastern Europe, in 2003. By the end of 2008, 27 ALACs have been established across the world. The ALAC strongly believes that people are usually apathetic in the face of corruption because they are not provided with the simple, credible and viable mechanisms to effectively combat the menace.
ALAC has, therefore, been created to provide the avenue for people and corporate bodies who either become victims or witnesses of corrupt practices the legal advice to pursue the cases with the appropriate authority.
The Center approaches and monitors instances related exclusively to corruption or having high potential of corruption from the public sector.
The goal/focus of the ALAC is to assist and give advice to Victims and Witnesses of corruption. Our focus is on the administrative and legal procedures as well as the monitoring of mechanisms of corruption.
THE AIMS OF THE ALAC
The following are some of the aims for setting up the ALAC
- To provide legal advice and assistance to victims and witnesses of corruption
- To empower citizens, residents and corporate bodies to make and pursue corruption related complaints.
- Undertake advocacy for broader structural and institutional reforms with the view of minimizing corruption in Ghana.
- To complement the anti-corruption work of public institutions such as CHRAJ, SFO, Legal Aid Scheme, and the AG’s Dept.
- To build synergies with civil society with similar objectives to broaden the frontiers of a just, fair and caring society in Ghana.
- To educate the people on corruption and related issues.
SERVICES OFFERRED BY THE ALAC
The ALAC offer the following services free of charge to its complainants:
- Consultation with trained legal advisors
- Case preparation
- Referrals to Anti-Corruption Agencies for investigations and redress of complaints
- Hotline that is toll free from Ghana Telecom. For the avoidance of doubt those who call us using the toll free do not pay for calls so made.
ACCESSING THE SERVICES OF ALAC
All persons in Ghana including corporate bodies can access the services of the ALAC. However our focus shall be on the following;
- The indigent or the poor and the vulnerable who otherwise may find it almost impossible to access or demand justice
- Individuals who are empowered and are seeking to assert their rights
CASES THAT ALAC DEAL WITH
- ALAC deals with all types of reported instances of corrupt behaviour, from small scale to large scale in service delivery.
- Cases may come from across sectors such as health, education, mining, business and governance from anywhere in Ghana.
THE DON’TS OF THE ALAC
- The ALAC does not have the power to pronounce judgments themselves. As a matter of law and practice, it is the judiciary that has this power. The centre can only based on the evidence presented, to counsel the victims, to refer the cases to the appropriate authorities, to monitor the solution, to prepare periodic reports, and publicize monitored cases;
- The Center exposes cases of corruption only to advocate for their solution, without campaigning against persons or institutions;
- The Center does not represent victims of corruption in courts;
- The Center does not investigate reported cases;
- The Center does not publicize cases of corruption without the prior consent of the parties involved in the matter.
- The ALAC though takes anonymous complaints; we can not pursue anonymous complaints.
HOW TO PROCESS COMPLAINT
The ALAC functions as follows:
- First receives complaints
- Requests documents/make appointment with Legal Advisor(where the ALAC can assist)
- Provides legal or extra legal advice
- The legal advisor assists to draft and file the complaint to the appropriate authority for redress
- Follows up on complaints lodged with institutions to track outcomes.
- Uses data on complaints to advocate for greater structural and institutional changes.
A Review Committee has been set up to review the work of the ALAC quarterly to ensure that best practices are adhered to. The 5 member committee includes two renowned lawyers. The other three members comprise the GII Executive Secretary, The GII Programmes Manager and the Coordinator of the ALAC.
ALAC Ghana has established a partners’ form since April 2009. The forum among other things assists the ALAC to better serve the citizens by way of information sharing. The forum consist of 20 members from identifiable institutions in government and nongovernmental bodies
Some of the partners are as follows
the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), the Attorney-General’s Office (A-G), the Auditor-General’s Office (AuG),, the Public Procurement Authority (PPA, Controller and Accountant-General’s Department (C&AGD), Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), Judicial Service, Public Accounts Committee of Parliament and the Ghana Police Service, Legal Aid Scheme (LAS), Labour Commission, Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Narcotic Control Board, etc