The Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, RT.Hon.Alban S.K.Bagbin has advised Members of Parliament that the immunity they enjoy as contained in Articles 117 and 118 of the 1992 Constitution is not absolute.
Article 117 and 118 of the 1992 Constitution state:
117. IMMUNITY FROM SERVICE OF PROCESS AND ARREST.
Civil or criminal process coming from any court or place out of Parliament shall not be served on or executed in relation to, the Speaker or a member or the Clerk to Parliament while he is on his way to, attending at or returning from, any proceedings of Parliament.
118. IMMUNITY FROM WITNESS SUMMONS.
(1) Neither the Speaker, nor a member of, nor the Clerk to, Parliament shall be compelled while attending Parliament to appear as a witness in any court or place out of Parliament.
(2) The certificate of the Speaker that a member or the Clerk is attending the proceedings of Parliament is conclusive evidence of attendance at Parliament.
He said MPs who are not attending to the business of the House can be served court processes.
The Speaker, who is a former MP of Nadowli Kaleo made this statement in a formal communication to MPs on Wednesday, June 9, 2021. He disclosed that it has come to his attention that some MPs during recess, when they were not engaged in the business of the House, evaded attempts by court officials to serve processes on them.
He said that should not be the case and called for mutual respect between the legislature and the judiciary.
He revealed that there have been incidents when court processes have been served on some MPs when they were engaged in the business of Parliament without recourse to the Speaker which should not be the case.
The Speaker then laid out an 11-point guideline which was developed in collaboration with the Judiciary to guide how parliamentarians can be brought before courts.
Mr.Bagbin indicated further that as it stands right now, MPs cannot be served with processes when parliament is in session without recourse to the Speaker.
Moreover, they cannot be served with court processes whilst within the precincts of Parliament without recourse to the Speaker.
He indicated that when Parliament is on recess however MPs can be served when but not when they are within the precincts of Parliament.
Also, MPs are to direct service of court processes to the Speaker if they are being served when the House is on recess.
Notwithstanding, where an MP has accepted service of a court process and has entered appearance, the member is said to have become a party and will therefore not be covered by immunities provided under the constitution