The House of Representatives has sent to committee room for review, an Act to amend Part XII of the Code of Conduct for the creation of the operational framework of the office of the Ombudsman, a key component of the Code of Conduct that seeks to deal with the conduct of public officials and government employees.
The House on Thursday, 8 June mandated the Committee on Judiciary to review the instrument and report on Tuesday, 13 June. The Senate on Tuesday, 6 June unanimously passed the act and sent it to the House of Representative for concurrence.
The two Houses have to Concur in the passage of the Act before a longstanding controversy that appear to have slowed the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman can be successful, though President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf had earlier nominated officials to run the office for the implementation of the Code of Conduct.
A key provision in the Code of Conduct that sparked controversies here is Part V, which prohibits presidential appointees from partaking in any political activities while still in appointed offices.
According to the Act, members of the Ombudsman shall hold office for two 3-year terms following confirmation by the Senate and appointment by the President, and shall be removed from office by the President for nonfeasance, malfeasance, misfeasance, and criminal acts as prescribed under existing laws and regulations.
In matters concerning the law, the office of the Ombudsman shall have the power to conduct hearings in a quasi-judicial manner and make findings, give reasons and conclusions in matters filed before it, while appeal from a decision of the office of the Ombudsman relative to violations of the Code of Conduct shall be immediately appealable to the relevant courts of Liberia.
The act also states that no person who files a complaint or participate in any investigation or proceeding pursuant to Chapter 12.6 shall be subject to any penalties, sanctions or restrictions in connection with his or her employment or be denied any right, privilege or benefit because of such action.
The act was prepared by an Ad Hoc Committee on the Ombudsman under the membership of Senators Jewel Howard Taylor, Joseph N. Nagbe, Stephen H. Zargo and Morris G. Saytumah.
–Edited by Winston W. Parley