Gloria Akuffo, Atttorney-General
QUOTE: Chinese Embassy donates GH¢10,000 to Attorney General’s office Wednesday 7th June, 2017
“Madam Sun Baohong, the Chinese Ambassador, on Tuesday [6 June 2017] donated items, including desktop computers, printers, UPS and a cheque for GH¢10,000 to the office of the Attorney General.
“The donation comes at a time when China has been heavily criticized for the involvement of its nationals in illegal mining activities in Ghana.
“Currently, there are several Chinese nationals standing trial for their involvement in illegal mining activities following a clampdown by the government on the menace which is destroying water bodies and farmlands.
“A similar donation was made to the Police Service this year, with the Ghanaian public suspecting that they were attempts by the Chinese government to influence the justice system, for the benefit of its nationals who are in the grip of the law.
“The latest donation, according to the Chinese Embassy, is to support the Attorney General’s Office, towards organising a stakeholders’ consultative workshop, on the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017.” UNQUOTE
This would, normally, not be a story to raise any eyebrows. The immediate past government of Ghana had denied working tools to so many institutions in the country that many public bodies are in the habit of openly begging foreign governments for assistance to carry out their job.
However, the “body language” of this particular story, that is, its context, puts a completely different complexion on it. I doff my hat to the journalists of CitiFM for having been able to identify that context in their story. (The originators of the report, the Ghana News Agency, had, rather witlessly, presented it “straight”. Their failure to add context to the story illustrates one of the great weaknesses of journalism, namely, to present a set of facts in a vacuum, that gives them a meaning that changes when those same facts are juxtaposed to other known facts.)
When the earlier Chinese gift to the Ghana Police Service is recalled, and a common link is made between it and the new gift to the Attorney-General’s office, a pattern emerges: the Chinese Ambassador has the knack of making gifts to prosecution agencies, either when legal proceedings are actively going on, or are in the process of being launched, against Chinese nationals.
Indeed, when the ambassador presented a gift to the police, I wrote in the Daily Guide calling on the Minister of the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, to repudiate the gift. Such facile instances of open courtship should not be allowed, I wrote.
But like most ministers in the Ghana of recent years, the Minister of the Interior did not react publicly to my suggestion. If he had, I am sure the Chinese ambassador would have had second thoughts about “approaching” the AG’s department directly this time. Remember – I am not suggesting that the AG’s office can necessarily be influenced. The issue is that the approach should never be made under any circumstances. Period.
The ambassador said, among other things, that the gifts were to help stakeholders to get educated about the creation of the position of a Public Prosecutor in Ghana!
I don’t know the degree of naivety that exists in the Attorney-General’s office, but are they completely unaware that electronic devices are the most potent instruments of espionage in the 21st century?
Has anyone in that Department heard that cyber systems were used to successfully interfere with the elections in the country that’s at the forefront of developments in the cyber world, namely, the United States of America?
If cyber activity can be effective in such a country, what chance would Ghana stand if and when a powerful nation decided to pry into its affairs?
Let me tell the AG’s Department that in the 21st century, sophisticated software exists that can prompt innocent-looking “smart” television sets, mobile telephones, laptops and desktop computers as well as refrigerators and ovens, to send information from their locations to pre-determined stations. Any device equipped with “Blue-tooth” and other “smart” signalling systems can undertake such tasks.
Every word that is typed on a “doctored” laptop or desktop can automatically be sent to a “listening” station. So, if you are conversing with a dear one whilst your TV is on, you could be telling someone somewhere your innermost secrets. How much more a laptop or desktop!
That’s the technical reality. But there is also a political aspect to the matter. Is it in our national interest to allow foreign embassies to make direct gifts to sensitive offices of state like the AG’s office? In China itself, is it easy for foreign nationals to engage in social intercourse with the Chinese people?
If contact between individuals is discouraged, how can access be provided to foreign missions and Chinese Government Ministries?
No – I do not think the Chinese would allow any foreign embassy access to a sensitive national institution, such as its Attorney-General’s office, in the way our Attorney-General’s Department has allowed to be done.
Which raises the question: does the practice of presenting gifts to a public institution with which a foreign mission may have an axe to grind, not flaunt the diplomatic accords that exist between Ghana and China? For it can be seen as an intervention in, if not interference with, Ghana’s internal affairs, doesn’t it?
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should have been aware enough of potential breaches of national security as to immediately order an investigation into whether any rules of diplomatic practice had been breached by the Chinese Ambassador, when she first made a gift to the Police Service. Its failure to protest may have led to the current approach to the AG’s office.
I would like the ministry to ask to be briefed on what has recently happened in Australia, where there have been widespread allegations that China has been secretly collecting thousands of Australian government documents. Mind you – Australia and China are great friends!
I ask you: what would the Ghana prosecution do, if it went back to court to pursue its case against Ms En Huang (Aisha) and four other Chinese nationals, only to find itself caught flat-footed, because the defence happened to know the prosecution’s case from back to front – thanks to the secret interception of all the prosecution’s discussions and arguments, regarding how the case should be conducted?
By Cameron Duodu