Law to Ban Public Gathering in Ghana goes to Parliament 

The Government of Ghana has introduced the Imposition of Restriction Bill, 2020 to Parliament to for the purposes of banning public gatherings and to institute travel ban in and out of the country when it is appropriate to restrict the movement of people among others in an emergency situation.

This has become necessary following the outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus in the country which has so far claimed over 8,000 lives worldwide though the recovery rate of infested persons in the initial epic center in Wuhan in the Hubei province in China has slowed.

The World Health Organization has now declared Europe as the new epic center of the disease after China was able to put in measures to contain the COVID 19 strain which has been declared by the WHO as a global pandemic.

Official sources from the Government of Ghana have indicated that as at March 18, 2020, seven cases of the disease had been confirmed in the country within just a week after the first two confirmed cases were announced.

The Imposition of Restriction Bill, 2020 is to give a legal backing to the President’s order banning public gatherings and travels in and out of the country as part of measures to control the spread of the Coronavirus in the country.

The Bill which was laid under a certificate of urgency on the Floor of the House on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 by the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Miss Gloria Afua Akuffo on behalf of the President, is intended to provide a legislative framework in consonance with the constitution, for the imposition of restrictions, as a quick and effective means of intervention to address emergencies.

The purpose of the Bill is to provide powers to impose restrictions on persons in the event of disaster, emergency or similar circumstance, to ensure public safety and protection.

In view of the fore going, Government finds it expedient to develop a legal framework to provide generally for expeditious interventions by the Government in the event of unforeseeable emergencies.

According to the Memorandum of the Bill, it recognizes the general fundamental freedoms guaranteed under article 21 of the Constitution, but also takes cognizance of the fact that the exercise of the right to the general fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution is subject to laws that are reasonably required, among others in the interest of public safety and public health as provided for in paragraphs (c), (d) and (e) of clause (4) of article 21 of the Constitution.

Paragraphs ( c) ( d) and ( e) of clause ( 4) of article 21 of the Constitution provide as follows:

“(4) Nothing in, or done under the authority of, a law shall be held to be inconsistent with, or in contravention of, this article to the extent that the law in question makes provision –

(c) for the imposition of restrictions that are reasonably required in the interest of defense, public safety, public health or the running of essential services, on the movement or residence within Ghana of any person or persons generally, or any class of persons; or

(d) for the imposition of restrictions on the freedom of entry into Ghana, or of movement in Ghana, of a person who is not a citizen of Ghana; or

(e) that is reasonably required for the purpose of safeguarding the people of Ghana against the teaching or propagation of a doctrine which exhibits or encourages disrespect for the nationhood of Ghana, the national symbols and emblems, or incites hatred against other members of the community;

Except so far as that provision or as the case may be, the thing done under the authority of that law is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in terms of the spirit of this Constitution.”

When accosted by the media outside the Chamber of Parliament for her comments on the Bill she presented to Parliament and the timelines for the ban and the restrictions on the rights of the public, the Attorney General and the Minister for Justice, Miss Gloria Afua Akuffo declined to make any comment.

She indicated that it would be disrespectful to Parliament if they should hear her making comments publicly on a request the Executive through her outfit is making on Parliament to pass such a Bill.

“I cannot speak on the Bill I have just handed over to Parliament. Once I have handed it over, it is no longer for the Executive. They are seized with it and only they can change anything, pass it into law or decide not to. I am sorry,” she replied.

Source: Clement Akoloh ||

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