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General News Wed, 29 May 2019

Release Short Commission report - Minority to Akufo-Addo

The Minority has threatened to withdraw from all talks leading to the passage of the Vigilantism and Related Offences Bill 2019 if the president does not release the Emile Short Commission.

The Commission was set up to look into the violence that characterised the Ayawaso West Wuogon on January 31.

Led by Justice Emile Short, the Commission was tasked to make a full, faithful and impartial inquiry into the circumstances of, and establish the facts leading to, the events and associated violence that marred the elections.

That was done and a report was presented to President Akufo-Addo in March.

Although the president has up to six months to publish the report, the Minority wants it done in the shortest possible time due to the Bill that has been laid in Parliament.

For them, the details of the report are crucial to the successful implementation of the Bill, without it, nothing meaningful can be done.

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.

Ranking member on the Defence an Interior Committee, James Agalga speaking on behalf of the Minority at a news conference said the consideration of the Bill without the input of the report will render the exercise fruitless.

“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.

He believes it is the interest of the entire country that the report is published so that Parliament is guided to pass a well informed 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 said Parliament should not then be pressured into passing the Vigilantism Bill.



What does the Vigilantism and Related Offensive Bill seek to do?

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.



What happens if the law is breached?

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: Myjoyonline.com
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