28 police personnel dismissed for misconduct
Police parade

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.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Clearly, the interpretation by the Police is problematic. Our Interpretation Act instructs us to construe laws purposively. There are innumerable judicial authorities on this subject. The purpose of the law and the President’s Directives are very clear and doesn’t admit of any ambiguity. They’re to stop further spread of COVID-19. So, to say that the directive to wear face masks in public places applies to a person who drives a private car alone, with all windows closed appears absurd or unreasonable. Even the literal interpretation gives way to the golden rule of interpretation where the application of the literal rule will result in absurdity, unreasonableness or unintelligibility. The issue under consideration clearly falls within interpretive case.

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