COVID-19: Arrest, Prosecute & Fine Citizens Who Flout Lockdown Directives – MAC

Pressure group, Mass Action Committee (MAC) is calling on the government to ensure that members of the public who deliberately disregard lockdown measures initiated this week, face the full rigours of the law.

The group is however unenthused by reports of some security officers abusing citizens for flouting the lockdown directives announced by the president.
 
MAC, in a statement issued on Thursday and signed by its Executive Secretary, Atik Mohammed condemned the act and described it as “unacceptable”.

"This trend of affairs is objectionable and we condemn it in the strongest words possible," the statement read.

As part of measures to prevent further spread of the deadly Coronavirus, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced a two-week restriction on movement within the Kasoa township, Greater Accra Region and Greater Kumasi and some municipalities in the Ashanti Region, effective 1 am on Monday, 30 March 2020.

Essential service providers and some other business enterprises have been exempted from the lockdown.

Some Ghanaians flouted the lockdown directive and were seen going about their duties as in normal times.

Their action resulted in some members of the joint police-military team enforcing the lockdown to unleash mayhem on them. 

Some sections of the public have openly spoken out against the conduct of this uniformed personnel; not excluding the MAC.

But while the pressure group is warning against abusing human rights in the name of fighting COVID-19, it also called for the application of the relevant laws against anyone who flouts the lockdown rules.

Our view, therefore, is that, culprits must be arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the law. When they are found guilty, we admonish that, the courts be prayed to exact only the penalty of fines in lieu of imprisonment given the COVID 19 situation. We further suggest that an escrow account be created for these fines so that, they can be used specifically to support the government’s anti-corona efforts," portions of the MAC statement read.
 
 
Read below full statement…
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

1. The Mass Action Committee (MAC) has noted with concern, the growing number of video footages showing some security personnel subjecting civilians to all forms of abuses, ostensibly to enforce directives of the lockdown. This trend of affairs is objectionable and we condemn it in the strongest words possible.

2. It cannot be gainsaid that, the lockdown is a painfully necessary measure meant to ensure our individual and collective safety.  To this end, laws have been enacted to govern this process namely; the Imposition of Restrictions Act 2020, Act 1012, and the corresponding Imposition of Restrictions Coronavirus Disease (COVID 19) Pandemic (No.2) Instrument, EI 65. And that, everyone within the jurisdiction of Ghana is required to strictly observe the lockdown in accordance with these laws.

3. However, it will be naïve to assume that, all will obey the lockdown rules. That is why in the wisdom of authorities, it became imperative to deploy our security personnel to ensure compliance.  It must be underscored that, this task does not even remotely, suggest our security officers can resort to the use of extralegal means in dealing with suspected offenders. In fact, Section 6 of ACT 1012, clearly specifies the penalty regime for offenders. It states, “A person who fails to comply with a restriction imposed under the Executive Instrument issued under subsection (1) of section 2 commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than one thousand penalty units and not more than five thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not less than four years and not more than ten years or both”.

4. Our view therefore is that, culprits must be arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the law. When they are found guilty, we admonish that, the courts be prayed to exact only the penalty of fines in lieu of imprisonment given the COVID 19 situation. We further suggest that, an escrow account be created for these fines so that, they can be used specifically to support government’s anti-corona efforts. 

5. We cannot, in fighting this crisis create another tragedy- the tragedy of human rights abuses. Our history is punctuated with unpleasant experiences of civilian brutalities by men in uniform who had little regard for people’s rights. We cannot allow a return to that chapter even if it is in the name of fighting COVID 19. Our security men must use the law to its full effect in dealing with people who flout the restriction laws.

6. Meanwhile, we like to reiterate our call to all Ghanaians to observe the restriction or lockdown directives in order to ensure, we slow and hopefully break the chain of spread of COVID 19.

7. We also wish to applaud the relentless efforts of government, our frontline health workers and all Ghanaians who have variously contributed to this fight.

God bless our homeland Ghana and together we shall overcome!

SIGNED
Atik Mohammed
(Executive Secretary)

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