Subsequent to the health and economic sectors, the authorized and justice sectors of international locations have been prominent in the unfolding of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The justice sector moderates all other sectors of national lifetime and is as lively in peacetime as in times of war or unexpected emergency. But I would argue that in Ghana, the justice sector is not all set for this essential role.
The sector has certainly been offered with get the job done to do in response to this pandemic. A excellent offer of what it has been asked to do highlights inefficiencies in the technique – and in several occasions is forcing variations that need to have been released extended before Covid-19 struck.
Modern makes an attempt to modify the justice process to Covid-19 reveal that lots of justice sector interactions are totally needless. Some of these are mirrored in the arguments I have previously set out about reforms the system requirements.
The Ghanaian govt has released a raft of interventions across the lawful and justice procedure.
For illustration, it has clarified the constitutional and legislative basis for the containment and preventive actions that had been put in location. The clauses of the Constitution working with crisis powers and limitation of rights have been at perform. So were being the Public Health and fitness Act, the Immigration Act and several other rules.
But it’s absent additional by introducing a new regulation that elaborates on the limitation of rights in the constitution. The Imposition of Limitations Act was duly handed by parliament.
Making use of this legislation, the president has issued a number of executive devices detailing measures for containing the virus.
But the new legislation, as properly as the use of previous statutes, has sparked controversy. Authorized teachers have written articles and designed public statements on the legality and propriety of measures currently being taken to consist of the pandemic.
The govt has mobilised the state’s law enforcement and national protection businesses. These are becoming utilized to stop gatherings and conferences and to arrest offenders. They are also getting made use of to aid health and fitness officials trace, observe, and quarantine men and women who may possibly have been in contact with some others tests beneficial for the virus.
General public desire and political lawyers have also brought suits in courtroom to challenge several features of the new regulation, as properly as the authorized implications of the partial lockdown. For illustration, Ghanaians had been nevertheless envisioned to get their nationwide identification cards in preparing for voter registration.
The state is because of to go to the polls in December. Legal troubles have been mounted to stop the ongoing registration processes on the grounds that they violate the new limits on public gatherings and meetings.
In other places in the justice sector, many prisoners have been processed for launch, ostensibly to prevent overcrowding and its health and fitness pitfalls if the virus finds its way to the prisons.
Some of the responses to the pandemic demonstrate that facets of Ghana’s justice program are really pointless. Modifications have been imposed that should really in point be the norm.
For case in point, early in the outbreak, the Chief Justice directed the Bench to practise strict scenario administration tactics in a bid to avoid the unfold of the virus.
This was extensive overdue and must have been the case even in regular occasions. The new directive just underscores that it’s not necessary for men and women always to have to surface in particular person for scenarios. And the variety of scenarios to be heard can be greatly decreased by employing option dispute resolution mechanisms this sort of as out of courtroom settlements.
Other changes that ought to have been activated is that materials suitable to a case really should be supplied to the courtroom in advance of the scenario commences. Another is a connect with for higher use of engineering in court procedures to pace them up and decongest the courts.
It is disheartening that it has to acquire Covid-19 to initiate reforms in a legal method that serves tiny superior to common Ghanaians.
A considerable function of the new coronavirus illness is that it is a leveller. It influences the prosperous as properly as the lousy.
I ought to total this piece by praying fervently for a justice sector leveller a purely natural or other sort of occasion that will have an impact on people of the justice sector in the exact way one thing that will equally influence the very poor and the wealthy and influential in Ghana, so that for the initially time, the dire need for much more and more rapidly reforms in our justice sector will be taken severely.
Raymond A. Atuguba
Dean, University of Ghana University of Regulation, University of Ghana