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General News of Friday, 12 April 2019


Anti-vigilantism law before Parliament to be urgently treated

Ms Gloria Akufo, the Attorney General and Minister for Justice on Thursday morning laid before Parliament, a Legislative Instrument (LI) to deal with political party vigilantism and its notoriety in Ghana.

The bill is expected to be treated under Certificate of Urgency.

Vigilantism has been defined as the” act of taking the law into one’s own hands and attempting to enact justice according to one’s own understanding of right and wrong; action taken by a voluntary association of persons who organize themselves for the purpose of protecting a common interest, such as liberty, property, or personal security,

It is also “action taken by an individual or group to protest existing law; action taken by an individual or group to enforce a higher law than that enacted by society’s designated law-making institutions; private enforcement of legal norms in the absence of an established, reliable, and effective law enforcement body.”

Political vigilantism has gained currency in Ghana in recent times, especially in the wake of political activities such as before, during and after elections and has become a security threat, for which President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo last February made a declaration to end that phenomenon.

The instrument, when ratified, is expected to disband activities of vigilantism and make the formation of such groups illegal.

After the presentation of the proposed law to the House, Prof Aaron Michael Oquaye, the Speaker of Parliament, referred it to the Committee on Constitutional Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to determine whether it is of urgent nature or not.

He said the Government expressly requested the legislation to be considered urgently.

“Honourable Members, with our Standing Order 119 in relation to the urgency or otherwise of the Bill, for the purposes of its consideration by Parliament, it is the prerogative of the relevant Committee of Parliament…

“The House shall await the determination of the Committee of Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs tomorrow, Friday 12th April 2019,” the Speaker said.

This is perhaps for the reason that it is expected to adjourn sine die, for the Easter Holidays on Friday, April 12, 2019.

Minority Leader and MP for Tamale South Haruna Iddrisu made an unsuccessful attempt to shoot down the laying of the bill by the Attorney General on the grounds that it was not gazetted 14 days earlier before it was being introduced in the House, which was refuted by the Speaker that, that determination rested with the committee.

Mr Iddrisu Inusah, Ranking Member on the Committee and MP for Tamale Central, in a interaction with journalists, said more consultations- including the security agencies, the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), the political parties, the Media among, others- need to be done on the bill, before its passage.

The introduction of the bill in the House, followed a meeting by two major political parties, the majority, New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the Minority National, Democratic Congress (NDC) over talks to disband vigilante groups linked to the two parties.

The meeting follows a call by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, during this year’s State of the Nation’s Address to Parliament last February.