Outspoken British High Commissioner to Ghana, Jon Benjamin says his view on corruption in Ghana remains unchanged since he last spoke about the menace.
The Commissioner believes that Ghana still has a lot to do in order to curb corruption but says his country is willing to work with Ghana to overcome the challenge.
“If you ask if my views have changed…no, it is a societal issue that needs to be worked on but it is something we are willing to work with the government on”, he told Joy FM’s Super Morning Show host, Kojo Yankson, Friday.
Jon Benjamin was sternly criticized last year for a controversial speech he delivered on corruption.
He also said it was hypocritical for journalists to report issues of corruption when they expect payment before reporting an event.
He indicated that although the Ghanaian media is impressively improving, the demands by journalists for money to report events, popularly known as ‘soli’ is undermining their credibility and integrity.
“…what are we to think when certain journalists expect the famous ‘soli’ to cover our events? …and if those journalists who pride themselves on reporting corruption in others then ask for unofficial payments, isn’t that hypocritical?” he asked.
This didn’t go down well with most journalists.
But Mr Benjamin says having an open discussion about corruption and trying to find ways to bring it under control is necessary and is the first step in rooting it out of the system – even if not completely.
When asked about his view on the recent expose by investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas, where some judges were caught on tape allegedly taking bribes in all forms to subvert justice, the diplomat said it was necessary for a full inquiry to be conducted into the issue.
“It is an issue of concern, got a lot of publicity all across the world. I think the right thing to do is to have a full inquiry and the people identified in the film must have the right to defend themselves…which I think is happening at the moment.
“Don’t forget we are talking about a separate arm of the state…the Judiciary, therefore it falls to the Chief Justice to investigate and take action”, he added.
He said investigative reporting is a necessary step that needs to be taken in order to expose corruption, adding “I think it [is] an indispensable pillar of an open society and a democracy.
“People in positions of power ought to be accountable of how they spend people’s money which is what it is, and should be open to complete scrutiny and when people are found guilty of abusing that trust and that position and those resources, they should suffer the consequences”, he indicated.
Although he acknowledges that corruption is prevalent in all countries, including his, revealed cases of corruption must be seen through to the end.
The only way this can be done is for people implicated in corruption scandals to be investigated and punished duly for their crimes.
“There is a lot of evidence from around the world that for anti-corruption policies to be successful, one important element at the end stage, is the prosecution of those who are found guilty and the deterrence effect is extremely important if we are going to make anti-corruption policies successful”, he said.