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Punishment for not wearing nose mask in Ghana harsh - Legal Practitioner

BY: Zadok Kwame Gyesi
Martin Kpebu
Martin Kpebu

Private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu says the punishment for refusing to wear a face mask in public is harsh.

He has therefore called on the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to take a second look at the punishment.

A new Executive Instrument (E.I. 164) signed by President Akufo-Addo on June 15, 2020, as part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID -19) has made it an offence for refusing to wear a face mask in public.

The punishment is a prison sentence of four to 10 years or a fine of GH¢12,000 to GH¢60,000 or both.

The E.I. was issued by the President pursuant to the powers granted him under the Imposition of Restrictions Act, 2020 (Act 1012).

Per E.I. 164, which was gazetted on Monday, June 15, and seen by Graphic Online, the mandatory wearing of face masks shall be in force for three months and shall apply to all parts of Ghana.

Read also: Failing to wear face mask can land you 10 years in prison or GH¢60,000 fine

In a radio interview on Accra-based Joy FM  Friday morning, [June 19, 2020], Mr Kpebu said many Ghanaians earn very low incomes and therefore wondered why offenders should be charged that much.

"Failure to wear a mask cannot attract a fine of GH¢4,000 in Ghana here. What are their income levels?" he asked, adding “Let’s do something about this; otherwise its just going to be a mockery and it will bring chaos."

According to him, it appeared people around the President were not telling him what Ghanaians were complaining about "because this is a mockery."

He was of the view that since many university graduates were paid GH¢750 a month, it would not be right to charge first-time offenders more than GH¢750.

Mr Kpebu wondered where people would get money to buy food and other things after they had paid such fines.

He said there was the need to educate people more about the need to wear the nose mask, saying “there is the need for more education for everybody to understand the essence of nose mask-wearing.”

He noted that the punishment was not workable and that prisons were already full and there was no need sending more people to the prisons.