SC outlaws restrictions imposition law used by Akufo-Addo to shut down schools, churches, curtail movement during Covid pandemic

The Supreme Court has done away with the law that allowed President Nana Akufo-Addo to impose restrictions on people’s movement in the heady days of the Covid pandemic.

In a unanimous decision, the highest court of the land said the Imposition of Restrictions Act, which was passed by parliament in 2020 to allow the imposition of restrictions provided for in Article 21 of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution, was unconstitutional.

The president used that law to restrict public gatherings, shut down schools, churches, places of gathering as well as control movement during the pandemic.

However, a professor of law, Mr Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua, who is also a human rights advocate, along with eight others, found it offensive to the 1992 Constitution and prayed the apex court to annul it.

Prof Appiagyei-Atua and his cohorts contended that the law gave the president too much powers that allowed him to, unilaterally infringe the fundamental human rights and freedoms, in the whole or parts of Ghana, in a manner that excluded the special role of the Chief Justice and the Superior Court of Judicature in managing or regulating the suspension of fundamental human rights and freedoms in the whole or a part of Ghana; and also excluding the role of parliament in managing or regulating the suspension of fundamental human rights and freedoms in the whole or a part of Ghana.

The nine applicants swayed the seven-member panel of justices to their side with their arguments, culminating in a unanimous decision to expunge the law since it was an affront to the 1992 Constitution, thus, unconstitutional, null and void.

The panel comprised Justice Jones Dotse, who presided, with members including Nene Amegatcher, Nii Ashie Kotey, Lovelace Johnson, Amadu Tanko, Prof Henrietta Mensah Bonsu and Emmanuel Kulendi.

The court will make its full reasons for the determination available on 7 June 2023.

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