Friday, July 12, 2024

Why Ghana’s president refuses to sign laws on witchcraft, death penalty and suicide

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Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi is an experienced and award winning journalist from Ghana. He has worked for several media brands both in Ghana and on the International scene. Isaac Kaledzi is currently serving as an African Correspondent for DW.

Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo has refused to sign into law bills recently passed by the country’s parliament that relate to witchcraft and attempted suicide.

Lawmakers in July this year passed the Criminal Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2022, (Witchcraft bill) and the Armed Forces (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

They by so doing voted to abolish the death penalty and remove it from the country’s statute books.

The MPs also voted for a bill that protects vulnerable people who are subjected to inhumane treatment when accused of witchcraft.

The new law was to make witchcraft accusation and the abuse of victims a crime and also a crime to send such persons away from their communities.

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Attempted suicide was also to be exempted from the category of a crime. The amendment bill was sponsored by one of the MPs.

All that was needed was the Ghanaian president’s assent but the president has refused to sign the law to give it effect.

In a letter to the parliament, President Akufo-Addo said even though he supported these reforms, he cannot assent to them because of constitutional issues.

He explained that the way and manner the bills were prepared flouts Article 108 of the 1992 Ghana Constitution.

“After thorough consideration in the light of constitutional issues, I’m unable to assent to these bills,” President Akufo-Addo stated in a letter he sent to Parliament.

“I raised specific constitutional concerns regarding the bills related to Article 108 particularly the nature of these bills which were introduced to Parliament as private member’s bill rather than being presented by or on my [President] behalf,” the president added.

Article 108 of the 1992 constitution states: “Parliament shall not, unless the bill is introduced or the motion is introduced by, or on behalf of, the President -”

“The content of these bills have my support but we need to ensure that they are enacted in line with established constitutional and legislative process,” President Akufo-Addo’s letter to Parliament stated.

Ghana’s president however said his actions are purely constitutional actions and would now want to re-introduce the bill by himself.

“Any legislation we pass must be in complete alignment with the provision of our constitution. I intend to have the bill reintroduced to Parliament on my behalf in due course,” the letter said.

Ghana jails two women for lynching 90-year-old accused of witchcraft


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