Let us not be too hasty in happiness that a Commission of Inquiry has been set up to look into the violence that took place in Ayawaso West Wuogon.
Article 280(2) of the 1992 Constitution provides: “Where a commission of inquiry makes an adverse finding against any person, the report of the commission of inquiry shall, for the purposes of this Constitution, be deemed to be the judgment of the High Court; and accordingly, an appeal shall lie as of right from the finding of the commission to the Court of Appeal.”
This simply means that such findings are, in effect, High Court judgements.
Article 19(7) also provides as follows: “No person who shows that he has been tried by a competent court for a criminal offence and either convicted or acquitted, shall again be tried for that offence or for any other criminal offence of which he could have been convicted at the trial for the offence, except on the order of a superior court in court in the course of appeal or review proceedings relating to the conviction or acquittal.”
Article 19(7) describes what we call double jeopardy.
The effect of these two constitutional provisions is that when a person is found “guilty” or culpable by a Commission of Inquiry, he cannot be tried again for the same offence.
The decision in the Republic vs. Wereko-Brobbey and Another ie. the Ghana@50 case confirms this.
Another issue worth noting is that under Article 279, a Commission of Inquiry is empowered to compel a witness (suspect) to provide all relevant information that may even incriminate him. This information so provided, cannot be used against him in a criminal trial. This is because Article 19(10) also provides that “No person who is tried for a criminal offence shall be compelled to give evidence at the trial.”
What does this mean? This means the people who slapped the MP and beat and shot others in Ayawaso West Wuogon will not face any further conviction after the conclusion of the work of the Commission.
By: Isaac Wilberforce Mensah | citinewsroom.com | Ghana