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General News of Tuesday, 23 June 2020


Penalties under Ghana’s mask-wearing law ‘absurd’ – Martin Kpebu

Private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu Private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu

Private legal practitioner Martin Kpebu has described sanctions under Ghana’s mask-wearing law in the wake of COVID-19 as ridiculous.

According to him, the sanctions in their current form is destructive and does not seek to reform an offender as sanctions are intended to do.

The law among other things says “a person who fails to comply with the restrictions imposed under the Executive Instrument issued under subsection 1 of Section 2 commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than 1,000 penalty unit (Gh¢12,000) and not more than 5,000 penalty units (Gh¢ 60,000) or to a term of imprisonment not less than four years and not more than 10 years or to both.”

Commenting on the penalties, Mr Kpebu told Francis Abban on the Morning Starr that sanctions with financial implications for the citizenry must be in sync with the economic realities of the country.

“Where in this world will you see such a ridiculous sanction regime? The law is made to reform not to destroy, what we have is very ridiculous and I don’t think the President is aware of it and what the people think about it. It is a very ridiculous law. You’re going to destroy citizens with such a law. If you look at the minimum wage, how much savings can an average person do to be able to raise that minimum fine?,” he quizzed.

Also said portions of the law that insists on a person wearing mask even if they are alone in their vehicles must be tested in court.

“We may have to go to court. It cannot be the case that if you are in your car with air-conditioning on, you should have your mask on. It is absurd, you can’t have it on in your car but as soon as you pick a friend you need to wear a mask..."

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry is to engage the Police service on the implementation of the law on mask-wearing in the wake of COVID-19, Deputy Health Minister Dr. Bernard Okoe-Boye has said.

It comes after reports of draconian implementation of the law by police officers on traffic duties in the capital. Some residents of Accra have taken to social media to complain about police stoppage even when they are in their private cars alone with their air conditioners on but without the mask.

Dr. Okoe-Boye told Starr News the Police may have to relax their approach to the law when citizens are alone in their vehicles with their air conditions on.

“If you are in your car alone, the science does not support the position that you’re vulnerable to the virus or you could be infected. We will engage the police and find out which portions of the law they are trying to implement and how we can be on the same page. If someone is trying to arrest someone even if they are in their car alone, I don’t think we need an amendment of the law to change that, we believe that engaging the police will stop these things and we are going to do that,” he said.