By Reuben Sei Waylaun
Senator Abraham Darius Dillon wants some amendments to the National Code of Conduct of 2014.
The Montserrado County lawmaker in a communication accompanying his Bill to the plenary of the Liberian Senate through the Pro-Tempore, Albert Chie drawn the attention of his colleagues to Part v, section 5.1,5.2,5.3,5.9; section 10.1,10.2,10.3, and Part XV, Section 15.1 of the Act of Legislature prescribing a National Coe of Conduct for Public officials and employees of the Government of Liberia.
The Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) lawmaker said “We want to ensure all officials of government adhere to the National Code of Conduct. We are proposing amendments. It curtails who desires or when? Why we are restricting other Liberians when we senators can be sitting and contest for the position of president, vice president? The code of conduct must be clear.”
The Current Law:
Part V: Political Participation 5.1 All Officials appointed by the President of the Republic of Liberia shall not: a) engage in political activities, canvass or contest for elected offices;
b) use Government facilities, equipment or resources in support of partisan or political activities; c) serve on a campaign team of any political party, or the campaign of any independent candidate.
5.2 Wherein, any person in the category stated in section 5.1 herein above, desires to canvass or contest for an elective public position, the following shall apply; a) Any Minister, Deputy Minister, Director-General, Managing Director and Superintendent appointed by the President pursuant to article 56 (a) of the Constitution and a Managing Director appointed by a Board of Directors, who desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post at least two (2) years prior to the date of such public elections; b) Any other official appointed by the President who holds a tenured position and desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post three (3) years prior to the date of such public elections; c) However, in the case of impeachment, death, resignation or disability of an elected official, any official listed above, desirous of canvassing or contesting to fill such position must resign said position within thirty days following the declaration by the National Elections Commission of the vacancy.
5.3 It is unlawful for any public official to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or to attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other persons to vote or not to vote as he may choose, or of causing such other persons to vote for, or not to vote for, any candidate for any elected public office. 5.9 Any public official, after due process, who is found guilty of violating any provision of this section shall be immediately removed from the position or office held by him/her, and thereafter no part of the funds appropriated by any law for such position or office shall be used to pay compensation to such person.
Part x: declaration and registration of personal interests, assets and performance/financial bonds
10.1 declarations of assets and performance bonds
Every Public Official and Employee of Government involved in making decisions affecting contracting, tendering or procurement, and issuance of licenses of various types shall sign performance or financial bonds and shall in addition declare his or her income, assets and liabilities prior to taking office and thereafter: a. at the end of every three years; b. on promotion or progression from one level to another; c. upon transfer to another public office; and d. upon retirement or resignation.
10.2 Repository and contents of Declaration.
The declaration of personal interest, income, assets, liabilities and the performance bond as may be required, shall be lodged with: In the Legislative Branch, with the Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives; In the Executive Branch, with the General Auditing Commission; and In the Judicial Branch with the Clerk of Supreme Court; and in each event such receipt shall be notified to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).
All such declarations shall be accessible to both the public employer and the general public upon a court order; as well as to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and the General Auditing Commission (GAC) for investigative purposes. The declaration shall be promptly updated by Public Officials and Employees of Government upon subsequent changes in his or her interest and/or assets. Each declaration along with the updates thereto shall include disclosure of income, assets, liabilities, net worth, financial and family interests held by the official.
10.3 Sanctions for False Declaration: Every Public Official and Employee of Government shall declare and affirm that his or her declaration is accurate to the best of his or her knowledge. Any statement in such declaration found to be false upon verification shall lead to summary dismissal and other measures provided by law. Part xv: sanctions 15.1 sanctions for infringement: Sanctions for any breach of this Code of Conduct shall be those prescribed by the Standing Orders of the Civil Service or any other laws governing the public service. Notwithstanding, depending on the gravity of the offence or misconduct, one or more of the following penalties may apply: a. dismissal; b. removal from office in public interest; c. reprimand; d. fine or making good of the loss or damage of public property/assets; e. demotion reduction in rank); f. seizure and forfeiture to the State of any property acquired from abuse of office; and g. interdiction/suspension from duty with half pay.
Part XV: Sanctions, Senator Dillon wants sanctions for any breach of the Code of Conduct to be those prescribed in section 5.9 of the current law, the standing orders of the Civil Service Agency or any other laws governing the public service.
In addition to whatever punishment prescribed by the laws stated herein, he wants punishments to include dismissal, removal from office in public interest, fine of making good of the loss or damage of public property or assets, seizure and forfeiture to the state for said public elective office and suspension from duty without pay respectively.