It’s difficult to force public officers to declare assets – CHRAJ

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) says it’s been left helpless on many occasions in enforcing Chapter 24 of the 1992 Constitution which focuses on the Code of Conduct for public officers.

The Code of Conduct provides that public officers comply with oaths, prevent conflict of interest situations and declare their assets and liabilities upon assumption of office.

However, the provision is flouted on many occasions; a situation CHRAJ believes breed corruption in public service.

But CHRAJ is confident the yet to be passed conduct of Public Officers Bill (CoPO) will be an antidote to this challenge.

Speaking at an event to mark 2022 edition of the International Anti-Corruption Day, Commissioner of CHRAJ, Joseph Whittal complained that the bill is currently pending approval from Cabinet 3 years since it was drafted.

“No one can deny the importance of a code of ethics for public officers in the fight against corruption. Indeed allegations of non-compliance with Chapter 24 of the Constitution, especially conflict of interest, and non declaration of assets and liabilities continue to dominate the media space. We all know what is happening.

“This year alone, the Commission received a record number of cases bordering on non-compliance and contravention of Chapter 24 of the Constitution. And we are currently investigating same,” Mr. Whittal said.

He feared if action is not taken, the bill passage will also delay as in the case of the Right Information Bill.

“Our fear is that if action is not taken, CoPO Bill might suffer the same challenge that the Right to Information Bill faced before it was passed into law. We are going to fight corruption, this situation certainly deserve it” he said.