The implementation of the IMPOSITION OF RESTRICTIONS (CORONAVIRUS
DISEASE (COVID-19) PANDEMIC) (NO. 10) INSTRUMENT, 2020 (E.I. 164) is becoming problematic as the police service is putting literal and or strict interpretation to the implementation of the provisions of the law.
Supt. Sheilla Abayie-Buckman, Director of Public Affairs, Ghana Police Service put strict interpretation to the law and said, the road is a public place according to the law and therefore sitting in your car alone and glass rolled still constitute being in a public place and therefore the person can be arrested. She added, that anyone arrested with the law in his/her car must defend himself in the court of law.
However, the information minister, Kojo Nkrumah, thinks otherwise. He said the interpretation of the law must be a purposive and or even modern purposive approach.
NewsCencord in an interview with Albert Quashigah, Law lecturer, University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), asserts “The police say, the law will be applied strictly, which according to this explanation, suggests that it will be read to cover everyone including an individual driving in his private car.
The information minister says, the law will be applied using a purposive approach, which from his explanation means an application of the law which curbs the spread.
Which is which? The purpose of the law is to curb the spread, and so, how do I spread if I am alone in my car?
Again, I have the right to privacy of my property and, my car is my private property. Being in a private car on a public road/way does not make my property less private property.
This law, if the police intend to apply it this way, will create an unnecessary backlash.
So, there is inconsistency in the interpretation of the law or rather an ambiguity. The rules of interpretation are that if there is doubt in a criminal statute, the doubt should be resolved in favour of the accused.
But this will be in court after the inconvenience caused you. we, therefore, call for the provision to be re-written”.
Even though the information minister said they are in talks with the police to use the purposive approach to the implementation of the law, we have seen many times where the police use the law to abuse people and therefore the calling for the amendment of the law for reason of certainty is in order.