The State, through the police, the Attorney-General, and the High Court, has for over a month frustrated and continue to frustrate a group of citizens from exercising a basic constitutional universal human right to hold a demonstration. It is provided in Article 21 clause 1(d) that “[a]ll persons shall have the right to [or] freedom of assembly including the freedom to take part in processions and demonstrations”.

Then in 1994, we made the Public Order Act which requires persons who want to undertake any special event, including a demonstration, to notify police five days ahead of the event merely – notify, not seek permission. This is ostensibly to get the police to provide some security guidance and protection. But this has sadly been turned into a near default position where they frustrate instead of facilitating the orderly exercise of the right.

They secured a bizarre unlawful injunction on the blind side of citizens of Ghana who have been mobilizing around the #FixTheCountry. FixTheCountry got the Supreme Court to nullify that injunction. The police returned to the High Court with the Attorney-General pursuing one goal – to stop FixTheCountry from demonstrating. The fear of spreading Covid-19 was the excuse.

Men armed to the teeth were deployed and armoured cars displayed at the independence square to scare and in readiness to deal with FixTheCountry campaigners if they dared hit the streets. Despite assurances of an elaborate social distancing plan and strict observance of the Covid-19 protocols put in place by the Executive, whose members have publicly treated the protocols with complete disregard.

Now the NDC youth sent a notice to the police that it also wanted to demonstrate a “March For Justice”. The police attempted once again to use fear of the spread of Covid-19 to frustrate them. But the police would quickly make a U-turn discussing routes, pledging and actually mobilising security for a successful event on Tuesday. The Constitution in Article 17(1) commands that [a]ll persons shall be equal before the law” and also specifically prohibits discrimination with elaborate clauses (2) and (3) of the same article.

The Covid-19 protocols were once again completely disregarded, just as was seen at the Accra Sports Stadium when Hearts beat Kotoko the week earlier. The other day, a handful of FixTheCountry campaigners who showed up at the court premises attending to their case were arrested for absolutely no offence. They were detained for hours and later released without a charge but harassed and abused with still having to report to the police.

The same bad selective application of the law is why only poor trotro mates get flogged unlawfully, ‘kayaye’ and truck pushers struggling to eke out a living in the scorching sun get rounded up and crammed at a police station for breaking Covid-19 protocols.

There is a real danger in securing respect and obedience for the law and institutions if the selective discriminatory application of the law continues. The more aggressive and deadlier Delta variant of Covid-19 is here when only 1.2% of the population is vaccinated and with a vaccine not proven to be as effective against it. We don’t have money for the costly vaccines against the devastation of Covid-19. We do have simple social-distancing and mask-wearing protocols to observe to keep Covid-19 at bay. Let’s watch these things. That’s My Take.

Samson Lardy ANYENINI
June 10, 2021 – Issue#24

NULL Invalid API key or channelobject(stdClass)#8052 (1) { ["error"]=> object(stdClass)#8050 (3) { ["code"]=> int(403) ["message"]=> string(117) "The request cannot be completed because you have exceeded your quota." ["errors"]=> array(1) { [0]=> object(stdClass)#8038 (3) { ["message"]=> string(117) "The request cannot be completed because you have exceeded your quota." ["domain"]=> string(13) "youtube.quota" ["reason"]=> string(13) "quotaExceeded" } } } }