The Minority in Parliament has described as “not useful” the Imposition of Restriction Bill 2020 which government says will help it deal with the spread of the coronavirus.
The bill says the president may impose restrictions reasonably required in the interest of defence, public safety, public health or the running of essential services through an executive instrument.
The bill laid in Parliament on Wednesday by Gloria Akuffo, the Attorney General, also says the President could impose restrictions on movement or residence within Ghana of any persons and could also restrict the freedom of entry into Ghana.
The bill additionally allows the executive to “impose restrictions for the purpose of safeguarding the people of Ghana against teaching or propagation of a doctoring which exhibits or encourages disrespect for the nationhood of Ghana, the national symbols and emblems, or incites hatred against other community members.”
Minority Chief Whip Muntaka Mubarak says the bill is too broad and could be abused.
“There is no mention of Coronavirus. And the bill is too broad. I don’t think that is good for our democracy. The way it is couched is worth than a state of emergency,” he told Joy News.
“With state of emergency, you will have checks and balances. Parliament would have to agree….Parliament can call for the state of emergency to be withdrawn.
“If it goes beyond three months, it has to be renewed every month. But this bill gives the president too much power,” the Minority Chief Whip said.
Muntaka Mubarak says the specific concerns about Covid-19 could have been dealt with using the Public Order Act 2012 and wonders why the Attorney General ignored that and chose to introduce new legislation.
“I am sure they have not read the public health act because if they had read it, it makes provisions for quarantine and stopping movement. They would have known that this situation they are trying to deal with is perfectly covered by the Public Health Act,” the Asawase MP said. “What they have laid is not about Coronavirus,” he added.
“I don’t see how parliament will serve the interest of this country if it passes this… I don’t think this will be a useful law… It will be a bad move if parliament passes this. Just as it could be used for good, it could be used for a lot of evil,” Mr. Mubarack said.
The speaker has referred the bill to the committee on constitutional and legal affairs of parliament for consideration. Committee members were meanwhile locked up in a meeting Thursday morning and afternoon considering whether the bill should be treated as urgent business.