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August 5, 2020
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We will withdraw from Vigilantism and Related Bill Debates if…. – Minority

The Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Parliament has threatened to back out from all debates leading to the passage of the Vigilantism and Related Bill 2019 if President Akufo Addo do not release the report by Emile Short Commission.

The Commission which was set up to look into the violence that characterized the Ayawaso West Wuogon on January 31 presented its report to the President in March

The Commission that was led by Justice Emile Short was requested to make enquiries into the violence that characterized the Ayawaso West Wuogon bye-election and make full, faithful and impartial, and establish the facts leading to the events associated with the violence.

Due to the Bill on the vigilantism that has been laid in Parliament, the Minority wants it publish in the shortest time, although the President has up to six months to do so.

According to the Minority for a successful implementation of the Bill and for a meaningful work to be done, the details of the report should be made public before deliberations and passage

The Minority has also said they will boycott the ongoing dialogue between the two main political parties and other stakeholders on the voluntary disbandment of party militias if the report is not published.

Speaking at a press conference in Accra on Wednesday, 29th May 2019, the Ranking Member on Defence and Interior Committee, James Agalga said without the input of the report, the consideration of the Bill will be exercise in futility.

“We are very clear in our minds that the President has six months within which to submit the report but again we are very clear in our minds that there are very compelling reasons why the report must be published now.

“Parliament is being stampeded to pass that Bill under a certificate of urgency and the president is reported to have said that Parliament must pass the Bill before the end of June… but given the fact that we are saddled with a Bill on vigilantism, how is it that Parliament is being stampeded to rush such a Bill through without recourse to the Emile Short Commission report,” he queried.

The Minority, he said, believes it will be in the interest of the country if the president publish the report so it can serve as a working guide for parliament do a good work on the Bill.

“The President cannot exercise his discretion in this matter by withholding the report from us notwithstanding the fact that he is operating within the six months time frame,” he stressed.

But if the President insists on adhering to the time frame, Mr Agalga noted that, Parliament should not then be pressured into passing the Vigilantism Bill.

The purpose of the Bill is to disband political party vigilante groups and forbid acts of such nature in the country, following the continuous violence that have characterised the country’s by-elections.

By-elections in Atiwa, Akwatia, Chereponi, Talensi, Amenfi West and more recently Ayawaso West Wuogon, have all been marred by acts of violence.

The Bill applies to persons who participate in the activities of a vigilante group that is associated, related, connected or affiliated to a political party, political party officials, or a political party member.

It also applies to persons who act as land guards and those who engage in other acts of vigilantism.

The Bill will not apply to persons who live within the same neighbourhood or community and who act in concert with the aim of preventing an offence from being committed within that neighbourhood or community.

Also, persons who have witnessed the commission of an offence acts with the sole aim of preventing the further commission of that offence or any other offence, are not targets of the Bill.

Leaders of the disbanded political party vigilante groups shall, within one month after the coming into force of this Act, by notice in writing, inform the Minister of the formal disbandment of their political party vigilante groups.

A leader of a disbanded political party vigilante group who fails to comply with provisions of the Bill commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than five years and not more than 15 years.

Similarly, a person who violates the provisions will be liable on summary conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than five years and not more than fifteen years.

—Source: Frontpageghana.com/Ghana (with additional files from myjoyonline)

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