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Parliament passes the Imposition of Restrictions Bill, 2020

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman

Parliament has passed the Imposition of Restrictions Bill, 2020 to give strong legal backing to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo's directives to deal with the devastating threats posed by Coronavirus in the country.

The Act will vest the President with the powers to impose restrictions on persons in the event of disasters and emergencies in the interest of public safety, health and protection.

It will also provide the legal framework in dealing with cases of affront to the collective integrity of the country, particularly to the defence and disruptions in the running of essential services.

Amendments

The passage of the Bill came after it had undergone intensive two-day amendments since it was laid before the House on March 18, 2020 under a certificate of emergency in accordance with Article 21 (4) (c) and (d) of the Constitution.

The green light given the Bill followed the approval by the House last Friday that Bill was of an urgent nature in accordance with Article 106 (3) of the Constitution and Order 119 of the Standing Orders of the House.
Prior to its passage, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ms Gloria Akuffo, moved the motion for it to be read the third time and it was seconded by the Chairman of the Constitution, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Ben Abdallah Banda.

Good legislation

Moving the motion for its third reading, Ms Akuffo said acknowledged the concerns that had been expressed about the Bill since it was first laid.

She said she understood the concerns lack of reference of Coronavirus in the memorandum that accompanied the Bill but explained that the legislation was not all about dealing with the disease today.

“Putting this concerns in the Bills is not what the Bill is about. The emphasis is creating a Bill for legislation that will deal not only with the risk that our country has been exposed to presently but also in the future.

“Mr Speaker, I can assure the House that by the time we are done we will all feel proud that we have done a piece of work that will serve our country well in the future, and that comfort will be found in the proposed amendments that the House approves of,” she said.

Minority opposition

The Minority, prior to the passage of the Bill, argued that Bill was not of an urgent nature on grounds that it failed to focus on measures that would be instituted to deal with COVID-19 in Ghana.

The Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, argued that the passage of the Bill would vest the President with so much unchecked and unfettered powers, saying that “the more the concentration of powers, the more likely it is abused.”

According to him, the Minority strongly believed that the issue at stake was bout dealing with a global public health pandemic, hence the memorandum which accompanied the Bill, as required in Article 106 (2) of the Constitution, should have been adequately defined.

“Indeed, in the memorandum which accompanied this Bill no reference is made even to the word Coronavirus or COVID-19 yet it is supposed to be the underpinning variable that is informing the establishment of this legal framework.

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