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General News of Saturday, 26 June 2021

Source: crimecheckghana.org

Let’s formulate bye-laws that are reasonable – Lecturer

Dr. George Asekere is A Political Science Lecturer at the University of Education Dr. George Asekere is A Political Science Lecturer at the University of Education

A Political Science Lecturer at the University of Education, Winneba, Dr. George Asekere, has urged Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to make realistic bye-laws for the sake of the poor and the vulnerable in society.

He said many of the bye-laws enacted by the MMDAs seem to target a certain group of individuals, especially ‘vagrants’ (the homeless, street hawkers, head porters, vendors, truck pushers, market women, artisans, among other vulnerable groups) who are normally ignorant of their rights and responsibilities under the local government bye-laws.

Dr. Asekere was speaking at a sensitization workshop on the bye-laws of the Ashaiman Municipal Assemby, at the Ashaiman Mandela Park.

The programme brought together officials of ASHMA, Media, and the leadership of various informal sector groups such as market women, truck pushers, transport associations, beauticians, hawkers, waste contractors, and the Ghana Federation of Disability.

The event which was organized by Crime Check Foundation (CCF), forms part of the implementation of the CCF-OSIWA partnership dubbed “Decriminalizing Vagrancy Laws and Advocacy” project. The project seeks to create an enabling environment for vagrants to know, claim and exercise their rights and responsibilities in Ghana.

Dr. Asekere entreated the Ashaiman Municipal Assembly to review bye-laws that seem to ‘criminalize poverty and stifle economic activities of vagrants. He also implored MMDAs to be sensitive in meting out punishment to vagrants who, due to poverty and ignorance, violate the local bye-laws.

He further charged the Assemblies to live up to their responsibilities of providing social amenities, and desist from arresting vagrants because they have failed to meet their needs. “When you are enacting bye-laws, consider your peculiar situation so that the laws you enact benefit the people in your locality. Most of the bye-laws give power to a certain government institution, and, because such institution knows that vagrants are ignorant of their rights, they take advantage of them. But if the Assembly provides the necessary amenities as they are mandated to do such as public toilets, refuse dumps, among others, vagrants would not be breaking the laws in the first place”, he said.

The Executive Director of CCF, Mr. Ibrahim Oppong Kwarteng, asked vagrants to balance their rights with their responsibilities. He said that, the initiative was not to incite vagrants against the authorities, but to empower them to work hand-in-hand with the local authorities in increasing knowledge of the laws to reduce arrests, fines and imprisonment of vagrants. According to him, “vagrants must know their rights, but not to rise up against authorities. They must also know their responsibilities as citizens and do as they are required.” He stated.

The Presiding Member for the Ashaiman Municipal Assembly, Hon. Azonga Ananga Ayangiba thanked OSIWA and CCF for the initiative, which he believe, would greatly complement the efforts of the Assembly to increase citizens’ knowledge of the bye-laws for compliance, and reduction in violations, fines, and imprisonment.

The project which runs from May 2021 to May 2022 will be rolled out in 12 metropolitan assemblies in three regions; Greater Accra, Ashanti, and Central.

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