The Minority in Parliament is opposing a Bill that government is sponsoring to empower President Akufo-Addo to impose restrictions on the freedoms of citizens.
In its justification, the Minority MPs say that the Imposition of Restriction Bill 2020 is unjustified and should be withdrawn.
“They only brought a Bill regarding broad emergency powers to be given to the President and we think that they ought to be very specific. If you enact a Bill into law, giving the president broad powers, any unscrupulous president can misapply it,” said South Dayi MP, Rockson Nelson Defeamekpor.
Hon. Defeamekpor who is a member of the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament, said this after he had and the Minority had rejected the Bill at a meeting of the Committee today.
On Wednesday, Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo, had laid the Bill before Parliament under a certificate of urgency as prescribed under Article 21 (4) (c) and (d) of the Constitution to legalize the imposition restrictions on persons in the wake of the corona virus pandemic.
Such Bills are supposed to be passed under certificates of urgency to give the President powers to impose restrictions on personal liberties in in the event of a disasters and other emergencies.
Even though Government had stated the corona virus pandemic as the reason for its decision to sponsor the Bill, the Minority notes that the corona virus pandemic is not stated anywhere in the Bill. Its passage therefore would only lavish more powers on President Akufo-Addo whom the Minority have already labeled a dictator.
“Those of us in the Minority are of the opinion that the Bill as presented does not demonstrate any urgency for purposes of which we have to consider it under urgent circumstances. This is because there is nowhere in the Bill that coronavirus is mentioned,” Hon. Defeamekpor said.
He also faulted the very structure of the Bill saying the Akufo-Addo Administration was trying to create offences and penalties through an Executive instrument.
“…which is never done in law. It is only a statute of Parliament that can create a statute that will criminalize certain conduct and prescribe sanctions for it.
“But this government wants to come out with an executive instrument that will give the president power to create offences and create penalties for same,” the South Dayi MP said.
But the Government has denied that it is attempting to give more power to President Akufo-Addo for the sake of it saying, the Bill was crafted by Government with the future in mind.
Deputy Attorney General, Joseph Kpemka, claims that the Bill is styled to ensure that it is useful in any future eventualities even after the Corona Virus pandemic has passed.
“After we overcome coronavirus, there are others that will come up in the future. We are not aware of that, this is futuristic so that we don’t do knee jerk reaction to situations when they arise.
“We are doing this in contemplation that any other thing will arise, will be contemplated and covered by this so that we don’t make any other laws,” he added.