A unique book on military law, to serve as reference manual and provide ready answers on contentious legal issues, highlighting areas that require legislative intervention within the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), has been historically added to the textbooks of law in Ghana.
The unique 570-page monograph, authored by Lieutenant-Colonel (Lt-Col) Binditi Chitor, and backed by over 100 people, decided cases of the civil courts, offers practical legal solutions for dealing with challenges resulting from old and outdated legal regimes that govern GAF.
The book—Contemporary Approach To Military Law In Ghana— was launched on Friday, 28th of September, 2018 at the Burma Hall, Burma Camp, Accra, and received wide acclaim from legal luminaries who attended the launch.
GAF operates with military law and regulations, which are deemed by many legal minds as scattered are modelled after the military laws of the United Kingdom and Canada, since 1962 and some additions in 1970.
It is instructive to note that the legal regime that regulates GAF comprises laws fragmented in Acts, regulations, operations, manuals and judicial decisions.
With the promulgation of the 1992 Fourth Republic Constitution, the application of military law, solely on the Armed Forces Act of 1962 and its corresponding Regulations, as well as other internal memoirs and orders, have been deemed by many a legal mind, to give rise to outcomes which are likely to contradict the Supreme law of Ghana.
An example is given in Section 61, sub-section 1 to 3 of the Armed Forces Act of 1962, Act 105; an officer or soldier may be held in custody for up to 90 days, following the commission of a Service Offence.
On the other hand, Chapter 5 of the 1992 Constitution prescribes a 48-hour maximum period for which an offender of any offence could be detained, prior to the courts approving or otherwise of the person’s detention – a clear clash of the 2 regimes.
Additional example is, a recent ruling by the Commissioner for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) against the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), for dismissing 2 female officers for being pregnant outside the stipulated period under regulations.
This raises inquisitive instincts, since GAF has a similar provision under her Regulations, which could attract similar ruling.
Legal minds perceive that the way to go is for the Military Law to have recourse to the 1992 Constitution as well as other best practices elsewhere.
The Guest-of-Honour for the occasion, the Member of Parliament for Bimbilla and Minister of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, had this to say, “many Ghanaians are familiar with the role of GAF in maintaining security for socioeconomic development of the nation.”
“It is also common knowledge that discipline is enforced through the provision and enforcement of appropriate rules and regulations. It is therefore, of much interest for us to know how effectively our laws regulate our behaviours and activities and, how these laws interact with the legal regime that governs the nation as a whole.”
It would be recalled that GAF inaugurated an 11-member board of professionals on Thursday the 2nd of August, 2018 – ARMED FORCES REGULATIONS REVIEW BOARD (AFRRB) – to initiate reforms meant to address the effects of the advancement in technology, administration and logistics within the current framework of the 1992 Constitution.
The board has onerous responsibilities of checking for positions that are incongruous with best practices, in addition to the above listed targets.
The author, Lt-Col Chitor, who is a member of the 11-member AFRRB, has another book in 2013 captioned “Ghana’s Transitional Oil and Gas Industry – Legal, Corporate and Environmental Assets”, to his credit.
Some of the dignitaries present at the launch included the Deputy Minister of Defence – Maj Derrick Oduro (rtd), Deputy Attorney-General – Godfred Dame, a Judge of the Court of Appeal – His Lordship Justice Senyo Dzamefe, the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) – Lt-Gen Obed Boamah Akwa and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) – Maj-Gen William Azure Ayamdo.
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