A new bill laid before Parliament to be passed under a certificate of urgency is set to punish leaders of political vigilante groups who fail to disband their groups after coming into force to maximum imprisonment of 15 years.
The bill entitled “Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, 2019” will see any one who commits an offence, liable on summary conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than five years and not more than 15 years.
The Bill which shall be read together with relevant enactments and in particular, the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), provides for all political party vigilante groups in existence before the coming into force of the Act, to be disbanded.
Parliament’s Committee on Constitution and Legal Affairs after considering the Vigilantism Bill has backed the Attorney General’s request, for it to be passed under a certificate of urgency.
The Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aarom Mike Ocquaye referred the Bill to the Committee for it to determine if indeed, it requires consideration under a certificate of urgency when the Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo, laid it on Thursday, April 11.
Once passed into an Act, the Bill will see to the disbandment of political party vigilante groups and prohibit the formation of such.
After its deliberations, the Committee in a report said it has “duly considered the urgency or otherwise of the Bill and determines, by unanimous decision, that the Bill is of an urgent nature and may be taken through all the stages in one day in accordance with Article 106(13) of the Constitution and Order 119 of the Standing Orders of the House.
“…The Committee therefore by a unanimous decision, recommends to the House to adopt this Report and to pass the Vigilantism and Related Offences Bill 2019 in accordance with Article 106(13) of the 1992 Constitution,” the report added.
A Bill is deemed to be of an urgent nature when it needs not be gazetted before being laid in Parliament. It can, however, be gazetted 24 hours or soon after it has been laid.
Article 106(13) states “Where it is determined by a committee of Parliament appointed for the purpose that a particular bill is of an urgent nature, the provisions of the preceding clauses of this article, other than clause (1) and paragraph (a) of clause (2) shall not apply, and accordingly, the President shall give his assent to the bill on its presentation for assent.”
The Bill may be passed into law when Parliament is recalled on April 29. The Vigilantism and Related Offences Act comes in the wake of continuous violence that have characterised by – elections in the country.
By-elections, including that of Akwatia in 2009, Chereponi in (2009), Atiwa (2010), Talensi (2015), Amenfi West (2015) and that of Ayawaso West Wuogon in January, 2019, have all been marred by acts of violence.