The Member of Parliament (MP) for Kwadaso Constituency in the Ashanti Region, Dr. Kingsley Nyarko has urged Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to ensure the protection of the fundamental human rights of the poor and voiceless in the formulation and application of local assembly bye-laws.
Speaking at a sensitization workshop organized by Crime Check Foundation (CCF) on the bye-laws of the Kwadaso Municipal Assembly (KwaMA), in Kumasi, Mr. Nyarko stressed that the rights of the poor and vulnerable citizens are often abused by the assemblies in the implementation of its bye-laws. This he said is because, in their daily struggle for economic survival, some citizens violate the laws out of ignorance.
The programme formed part of the implementation of CCF’s Decriminalizing Vagrancy Laws and Advocacy project which seeks to increase knowledge on the bye-laws of the MMDAs and other relevant penal codes to reduce violations, arrests, fines, and imprisonment of citizens under the laws. Attainment of this objective is expected to ensure an enabling environment for ‘vagrants’ (the homeless, street hawkers, head porters, vendors, truck pushers, market women, artisans, and other identifiable and vulnerable groups) to know, claim and exercise their rights and responsibilities in Ghana. The project is supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
The legislator further noted that the project which focuses on the rights of ‘vagrants’ is a direct response to a ruling on ‘vagrancy laws’ by the African Court on Human and People’s Rights’ on vagrancy laws on 4th December, 2020 which stipulates that imprisonment of vagrants constitutes an abuse of their right. He reminded MMDAs that the neglect of their mandates to provide an enabling environment forces people, especially vagrants to engage in acts that breaches the bye-laws. “It is a fact that you arrest people who break the laws. It is also true that most of the Assemblies have not been able to provide dustbins, toilet facilities and other needs of citizens. It is therefore important for Assemblies to work harder because vehicles knock down citizens, people sell on the streets because there is no market and they are arrested, fined and imprisoned.” He said.
Participants at the event included representatives of Traditional Authorities, market women, head porters, truck pushers, sanitation workers, local chapter of Federation of Disability Organizations, and other identifiable groups.
The Municipal Environmental and Health Officer, Rev Wisdom Kudjoe took participants through relevant sections of the local bye-laws.
The Municipal Chief Executive for KwaMA, Richmond Agyenin Boateng lauded CCF for the initiative to promote education on the bye-laws of the Assembly to “end imprisonment under laws, improve protection of human rights and reduce prison congestion as well as poverty”.
The Municipal Coordinating Director of the Assembly, Madam Rodalyn Pondua, said the sensitization on bye-laws was important, and should be decentralized to the community and zonal Council levels. She assured the public that the education on the would be carried-out thoroughly before arrests and fines are made under the laws.
The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), established in 2000, is a grant-making and advocacy organization focused on equality, justice, democratic governance, human rights, and knowledge generation. It is part of the global network of Open Society Foundations spread across 37 countries around the world.
To report harassment and potential imprisonment under a local assembly bye-law, please contact or whatsApp: 0559544199 / 0507353539