Let us de-politicise PG job

23 October 2020 | Opinion

The hype and hullabaloo around the looming appointment of the country’s new prosecutor-general (PG) tells us that this is an issue of great public interest.

The matter has drawn more political interest than it has legal interest.

One of the thorny issues is that the head of state continues to enjoy the luxury, in law, to appoint the PG.

The difficulty with that legal provision is, first, that it borders on the interference of the executive into the affairs of the judiciary – in a country that prides itself for its supposed separation of powers.

Second, a president is a politician. Anyone appointed by the president is generally seen as a ‘political appointee’, yet the PG ought to be completely apolitical.

An independent PG who is free from political interference is fundamental to any democracy’s criminal justice system.

This is because the prosecution authority wields substantial power and discretion to prosecute cases, or not, and is required to provide objective, apolitical, non-arbitrary decision-making in the application of criminal law and policy to real cases.

To avoid this trap, the appointment of the PG must be the sole territory of the Judicial Service Commission. Requiring the president to make the final appointment, even with the best of intentions, makes this position a political one.

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