The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban Bagbin, has cautioned the security services to desist from arresting or prosecuting any Member of Parliament without his notice.
MPs, according to Ghana’s laws, cannot be arrested while on their way to or from parliament.
The Speaker said he is aware some MPs are being prosecuted without his notice and would, therefore, intervene to seek the protection of the legislators as stipulated by law.
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, 9 June 2021, Mr Bagbin said: “As I sit here, I gathered information that some members were arrested, were prosecuted and are before court without any notice to the Speaker. This cannot continue”.
“Even when a member is alleged to have committed an offence and is been investigated, the Speaker must be given notice because one of the rights that we have are termed ‘immunities’ and those immunities are absolute”.
“For example, in parliament, during the course of the plenary, whatever you say here is absolutely protected by law and you are immune from any process outside parliament”.
“That is why the Speaker’s certificate and intervention are necessary because the Speaker will need to know why the member is being investigated or arrested”, he said.
“And when it’s one of the absolute immunities, the intervention of the Speaker will stop albeit or prevent a member from being prosecuted.”
“But I’m aware some of our members are before court now without notice to the Speaker and I’m taking action to make sure that these things come to my notice and we will take action to make sure that members are protected to perform their constitutional duties,” he stated.
Mr Bagbin added: “We need members of parliament for good reasons. There are critical decisions that need to be taken. In some days where we need not less than two-thirds of members’ approval before they can pass through”.
“And, so, if we allow law enforcement bodies to pick members at will and detain them and interrogate them outside plenary sessions, it will affect the business of the house, the business of government and the progress of our nation and so even though members of parliament are not above the law, we passed the law and we must show leadership in the enforcement and application of the law, but we are, at the same time, given special rights that protect us because we are not here as individuals, we are here carrying the mandate of millions of Ghanaians”.
“That is why the leadership position like the president is given those special rights and these must be respected by all. I don’t want in future to hear or receive anything that is complete disobedience to this statement that I’ve made. I’ll take serious view of it and the house will apply its full force to make sure that our democracy works in accordance to our rules of law.”