Parliament To Set Up Committee To Deal With Arrest Of MPs

Mrs Justice Joyce Bamford-Addo, Speaker of Parliament on Tuesday directed the Leadership of the House to set up an adhoc committee to determine the modalities for the arrest of Members of Parliament (MPs). This, she said, would not contravene the law and impugn on the integrity and dignity of Parliament. The directive was issued as a result of a statement made on the floor of Parliament by Minority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu. Mr Osei was registering the Minority’s displeasure on the manner Mr Osei Bonsu Amoah, MP for Aburi/ Nsawam was arrested by the Police at the weekend to aid the investigations of Alfred Agbesi Woyome, a businessman’s judgement debt issue. The committee which is to work in tandem with the constitutional provisions is expected to submit a report to the House by the end of the week. The committee is expected to deliberate on the constitutional provisions and the Standing Orders of Parliament, and fashion out a procedure for the security services in the arrest or apprehension of an MP involved in a legal case. Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu told the House that the manner, in which Mr Amoah was trailed and arrested by the security agencies at his house after a Parliamentary meeting, was unfortunate considering the provisions in the Constitution and the Standing Orders of Parliament. He said the country’s laws states that MPs should not to be impeded in their course of their mandated duties as their constituents are at all times entitled to representations and decision-making by their MPs". Acknowledging that the arrest of Mr Amoah was not the first time a member had been apprehended by the security agencies, the Minority Leader harped on the need for a concerted effort by both sides of the House to “Protect the dignity and integrity” of Parliament and Members so that they would not be treated contemptuously. “This issue should be a concern to all MPs regardless of their political affiliation. Parliament should not be reduced to a foot mat...What happened on Sunday was not the best and must not be allowed to happen again. “The time has come for us to take a firm decision and stand together as a House on the matter and determine on which part to tread on such matters,” he added. Mr Mensah Bonsu proposed the setting up of a body to determine the way forward. Majority Leader Cletus Avoka, who acceded to the proposal by the Minority Leader, however noted that MPs are not above the law, saying “When they encounter the law, the law should take its course”. He said it is useful to look at the constitutional provisions to ensure that security agencies do not contempt the law when accosting an MP, adding: “We need to ensure that we don’t antagonise the security agencies and ensure that the work of Parliament goes on.”