The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Gloria Akufo, has laid before Parliament, the Impositions and Restrictions Bill, 2020, to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

Having gone through the first reading, the Bill was then referred to the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for consideration and report to the plenary.

The Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, who presided over the affairs of the House, Wednesday, directed the Committee to consider the Bill under a Certificate of Urgency using the Standing Orders, and therefore must give their all to consider same and report to the plenary on Thursday, March 19, 2020.

The Bill, understands is to give legal backing to all the directives given by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, with respect to measures put in place by the country to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

A memorandum accompanying the Bill states that its purpose is to provide for powers to impose restrictions on persons in the event of a disaster, emergency or similar circumstances, to ensure public safety and protection.

It further states that due the circumstances the country finds itself in, it is important for the Government to develop a legal framework to provide generally for expeditious interventions by the Government in the event of unforeseeable emergencies.

“The Bill is therefore intended to provide a legislative framework in consonance with the Constitution, for the imposition of restrictions, as a quick and effective means of intervention to address emergencies”, the memorandum in part read.

The Bill, the memorandum adds, recognises the general fundamental freedoms guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, but also takes cognisance of the fact that the exercise of the right to the general fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution is subject to laws that are reasonably required, among others, in the interest of public safety and public health as provided for in paragraphs (c), (d) and (e) of clause (4) of Article 21 of the Constitution.

Clause (4) of Article 21 of the Constitution states that “Nothing in, or done under the authority of, a law shall be held to be inconsistent with, or in contravention of, this article to the extent that the law in question makes provision-

(c) for the imposition of restrictions that are reasonably required in the interest of defence, public safety, public health or the running of essential services, on the movement or residence within Ghana of any person or persons generally, or any class of persons; or

(d) for the imposition of restrictions on the freedom of entry into Ghana, or of movement in Ghana, if a person who is not a citizen of Ghana; or

(e) that is reasonably required for the purpose of safeguarding the people of Ghana against the teaching or encourages disrespect for the nationhood of Ghana, the national symbols and emblems, or incites hatred against other members of the community except so far as that provision or, as the case may be, the thing done under the authority of that law is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in terms of the spirit of this Constitution.