You are here: HomeSports2020 05 19Article 955732

Editorial News of Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Source: Ghanaian Times

Ghanaian Times: Coronavirus defiance and community service

One thing that is clear as the country continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic is the impunity with which some restrictions are flouted by some members of the public.

The emergence of the coronavirus, code named Covid-19, has forced many governments to introduce some restrictions in order to contain the spread of the disease.

Ghana, on its part, has introduced a range of measures including mandatory quarantine and isolation of those who have contracted the virus.

Many of the measures have been imposed under a new law; the Imposition of Restrictions Act (IRA) which says that “The imposition of restrictions under section (1) shall be reasonably justifiable in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution.”

Following the enactment of the law, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on March 15, 2020, introduced emergency measures across the country in order to contain the spread of the virus.

But as it is evident on the ground, some of these measures are being flouted by the very people that the laws have been made to protect. This has become a major concern to many Ghanaians as the defiance is likely to lead to further spread of the disease.

Fortunately, however, the law enforcement agencies have been making some arrests across the country and we are told that at least 236 people have, so far, been convicted for breaching Covid-19 directives.

It is good and laudable the efforts being made by the security agencies to arrest and secure convictions for those who flout the directives. We are aware that most offenders are convicted to fines and those who are unable to pay may be sent to serve jail terms.

But this is where our concern is.

Our prisons are already choked and to continue to cage those who flout Covid-19 restrictions will mean that the prisons may not be able to accommodate new inmates.

It is therefore welcoming news that Cabinet is considering community sentencing policy that will make it possible for people who flout laws to be convicted to community service instead of jail terms.

As the Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah put it at the Covid-19 briefing in Accra yesterday, community sentencing, as it stands now, is not a sentence option for defying various restrictions to contain the virus because the country does not have a clearly defined policy on same but added that it was under consideration at Cabinet level.

“Cabinet is considering a community sentence policy because [as it stands now] in Ghana, we do not have a proper community sentencing policy. Cabinet is considering one,” the Information Minister disclosed.

This is a laudable policy which must be supported by all and expedited to address the overcrowding in our prisons.

The Ghanaian Times is of the view that not all offences, be it during this period or after, should be punished by handing down offenders with custodial sentences.

We are of the firm belief that should this policy pass through all the legislative processes and implemented, the overcrowding in our prisons which stood at over 55 per cent as at September 2019, can be exponentially reduced.