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General News of Friday, 29 May 2020


Declare your coronavirus status to help fight stigmatisation – Maurice Ampaw to MPs

Private legal practitioner, Lawyer Maurice Ampaw Private legal practitioner, Lawyer Maurice Ampaw

Private legal practitioner, Lawyer Maurice Ampaw has added his voice to the ongoing debate about whether public office holders, particularly members of Parliament must disclose their coronavirus status or otherwise.

According to him, though members of parliament are not obliged to disclose such details for public perusal, the existing health crisis and the need to protect public safety in this period supersedes such rights of confidentiality.

Thus, the need for them to disclose their statuses as witnessed in other parts of the world.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with GhanaWeb, the renowned lawyer argued that “…In our law, we have what we call the right to privacy…so normally we don’t disclose health status to the public or any third party but when it comes to the interest of public which is guaranteed by the constitution of the republic of Ghana, then that right to confidentiality in my humble opinion, cannot override the larger public interest and the right to public safety…”

Though arguments about stigmatisation sprang up over the past weeks since recoveries were recorded, Lawyer Ampaw maintained that nondisclosure could cause more harm than good.

He believes more public sensitisation and education could curb the menace of stigmatization, thereafter.

“…parliamentarians who contract the disease should make it public it should be known. The only thing that we fight against stigmatization but when their status is not known to the public and they start infecting people then it will be an issue. So, I don’t see why we should even make this thing a confidential matter…,” he added.

As part of enhanced efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country, Speaker of Parliament, Aaron Mike Oquaye directed MPs and staff of Parliament to avail themselves to partake in a compulsory testing.

But the aftermath of the testing is shrouded in confusion and controversies; all of which seem to suggest viable explanations as to why MPs should not disclose their status and otherwise.

Rumours that emerged on May 26 2020 suggested that two members of Parliament together with 13 parliamentary staff had tested positive for the virus but this was vehemently denied by Public Affairs Director of Parliament, Kate Addo who said “…we do not know for a fact that this is what it is, so it could more, it could less, it could be there, it could not be there.”

There was, however, somewhat a U-Turn by same after MP for Asawase, Muntaka Mubarak confirmed the earlier reports of some of his colleagues testing positive to the COVID-19.

Meanwhile, so far, some notable political figures who have made their coronavirus status known include; Ghana’s High Commissioner to the UK, Papa Owusu-Ankomah and UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.