The Minority in Parliament has rejected the government’s request for the Imposition of Restrictions Bill to be passed under a certificate of urgency.
According to Chairman of the Subsidiary Legislation Committee Of the House, Dr. Dominic Ayine, the Bill is too broad and does not concern itself specifically with dealing with the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Speaking to Citi News, the Bolga East MP said the Minority side “want a Bill that is narrowly tailored to deal with the coronavirus.”
“This is a Bill that is intended to give the president overboard powers to restrict freedom of movement, freedom of speech and even freedom of thought,” he said.
After the Minority Chief Whip made similar comments, Dr. Ayine also said the Public Health Act was enough comprehensive legislation to deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“There are adequate legal provisions in existence to deal with the matters that are going to be addressed by this Bill. So it is an unnecessary grant of authority to the president to restrict movement,” he argued further.
Speaking to the media, the Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah expressed his disappointment with the development given the current challenge of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In his view, the concerns of the Minority can be addressed at the consideration stage once the Bill is passed on a certificate of urgency.
“Nothing stops them from proposing an amendment that introduced the world coronavirus in it… give it the certificate of urgency, let’s stop everything w are doing, let’s go round all the rules, let’s get it on the floor to the consideration stage and you introduce all of these elements.
Mr. Oppong Nkrumah added that the Majority side does not want to use numbers to push the Bill because “it is important to build a consensus in this time of crisis.”
About the new Bill
This Bill acknowledges the general fundamental freedoms guaranteed under article 21 of the Constitution but also takes into account the fact that the fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution are subject to laws that are supposed to be in the interest of public safety and public health as provided in paragraphs (c), (d) and (e) of clause (4) of Article 21 of the constitution.
Its purpose is to provide powers to impose restrictions on persons in the event of a disaster, emergency or similar circumstance, to ensure public safety and protection.
It also allows for the imposition of restrictions on the freedom of entry into Ghana or movement in Ghana of a person who is not a citizen of Ghana.
Coronavirus spread in Ghana
Ghana currently has nine cases of the novel coronavirus in Ghana.
Almost 400 people have so far been identified to have been exposed to infected patients in the country.
In line with the spread, Ghana announced new travel protocols after an increase in imported cases in the country, bringing the country’s total number of cases to seven.
Travellers who have been in coronavirus-hit countries with cases exceeding 200 within the last 14 days will not be allowed Ghana.
Only Ghanaians and foreign nationals with residence permits are exempt from this policy.