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Crime & Punishment of Thursday, 7 February 2008

Source: GNA

Writ against AMA-SC hears Arguments on February 12

Accra, Feb. 7, GNA - The Supreme Court (SC) will on Tuesday, February 12, hear arguments from counsel on both sides on a writ brought against the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) by an Accra legal practitioner challenging the Assembly's constitutional right to engage the services of certain people to carry human excreta.

Nana Adjei Ampofo, the legal practitioner, has sued the Attorney-General (A-G), jointly with the AMA, because the A-G is the government's legal officer, and, therefore, as a government entity, the AMA is to be represented or defended by the A-G.

In his writ, Nana Ampofo is seeking a declaration from the court that the act or practice of AMA in engaging the services of certain Ghanaians to carry faeces or toilet in pans on their heads, is an affront to their dignity.

Furthermore, he is praying the court to restrain AMA to abolish the practice, since, in his view, it is not only cruel and inhuman, but also degrading to the carriers as human beings.

One other relief being sought by Nana Ampofo is for the court to direct AMA to abolish the practice, since it is inconsistent with, and contravenes Article 15 of the 1992 Constitution, which states, among others, that the dignity of all persons shall be inviolable, and that no person shall whether or not he is arrested, restricted or detained, be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments or punishment.

In his writ, counsel avers that as a citizen of Ghana who alleges that a provision of the Constitution had been breached by the AMA, he does not need any special interest, and that being a Ghanaian, it is enough for him to bring the action against AMA under the Constitution Counsel avers further that the public interest considerations require the the practice is immediately abolished, as it constitutes a health hazard to the carriers and promotes the spread of diseases. Nana Ampofo also avers that if AMA makes bye-laws banning the practice, and ensures compliance, house owners will provide more hygienic places of convenience, adding that the Assembly can also provide on site disposal systems or hygienic collection, treatment and off-site disposal systems.

He further avers that the use of pan latrines ought to be abolished or banned in a country that is aspiring to achieve the middle income status by the year 2015.

In conclusion, Nana Ampofo avers that the carriers often referred to as "latrine boys", "do not work out of choice", and that by carrying the pans on their heads, the human excreta at times spill over and drill on to the shoulders of the carriers with its attendant stench. In his view, therefore, this practice must be abolished.

The five-member panel of the SC hearing the suit is presided over by Mrs Justice Sophia Akuffo, with Mr Justice Steve Brobbey, Mr Justice Richard Twum Aninakwah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira and Mr. Justice Samuel Kwadwo Asiamah as members.

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