Sentencing people to a prison term of between four and 10 years or fining them between GHS12,000 and GHS60,000 or both for not wearing a mask is “harsh”, the Ghana Bar Association has said.
Per Executive Instrument (E.I. 164) signed by President Akufo-Addo on 15 June 2020 pursuant to the powers granted him under the Imposition of Restrictions Act, 2020 (Act 1012), not wearing a face mask in public is an offence punishable by law.
However, the Bar Association, in a statement, said inasmuch as “punishments ought to be meted out to persons who flout and contravene laws”, it is “concerned with, and finds the punishment imposed in respect of persons who breach Act 1012 and E.I. 164, harsh”.
“It is our view that the punishments imposed by the provisions of Section 6 of Act 1012 and Paragraph 4(2) of E.I. 164 are severe and further that may culminate in the imposition of custodial sentences”, the statement noted.
The GBA said it is “apprehensive that the prisons, which are presently congested, may shortly be teeming with convicts who are unable to pay fines imposed by courts under Section 6 and Paragraph 4(2) aforementioned”.
“The GBA would, therefore, suggest, in the circumstances, an amendment of the said Section 6 to impose punishments that are less severe”, the association said.
“The Bar would propose a fine of not less than ten penalty units and not more than one hundred and fifty penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not less than one month and not more than two years. It is our firm belief that our proposals are sufficiently punitive and will deter people from violating the restrictions imposed by virtue of the law.”