The National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Friday expressed its opposition to the ‘Imposition of Restrictions Bill, 2020’ presented to Parliament, saying the bill has little to do with the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Madam Gloria Akuffo, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, on March 18, laid the bill before Parliament to enable the President to impose restrictions on emergency or similar circumstances to ensure public safety and protection.
The Bill is intended to provide a legislative framework in consonance with the Constitution for the impositions, as a quick and effective means of intervention to address emergencies.
Speaking at a press briefing in Accra, Mr Alex Segbefia, a member of the NDC Legal Team, said the party had no objection to the laws that would assist the country to deal with COVID-19, but the bill bears the hallmarks of authoritarian rule.
The party believed that the bill when passed, would give the President broad powers and authority devoid of any checks and balances.
“For a statute which is for a particular purpose, has no time limits for expiration. The proposed law is virtually silent on the well-known and accepted constitutional procedures by which the dignity and freedoms of Ghanaians are protected”.
Mr Segbefia said government could have resorted to the Public Health Act 2012 (ACT 851), the Public Order Act 1994 (ACT 491) and the Immigration Act 2000 (Act 573) to provide sufficient measures to address the challenge of the pandemic.
“The Immigration Act equips the Immigration Department with sufficient authority to control movements in and out of the control without the sweeping powers granted the President in the bill to virtually play with the lives of the citizenry”, he said.
Also, the Public Order Act (Act 491), empowers the Minister of Interior to take actions in the interest of public safety and public health.
Mr Segbefia said Article 31 of the 1992 Constitution provided elaborate measures on how the country should be governed in a state of emergency, stressing that those provisions gave Parliament wide powers of oversight, such that the rights guaranteed by the Constitution were not abuse by a President.
The bill in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House, has been referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to consider it under a certificate of urgency and report back to the House.