Site Meter

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

EC cited for contempt of court for disenfranchising prisoners

EC cited for contempt of court for disenfranchising prisoners

Dr. Afari Gyan

A civil rights group is citing the Electoral Commission for contempt of court.

The centre for constitutional order wants EC boss, Kwadwo Afari Gyan and his key staff punished for disobeying a Supreme Court order in March last year which gave the Commission twelve months to make regulations to enable the process that would allow prisoners to exercise their right to vote.

The order followed a declaration by the court granting prisoners the right to vote in national elections.

President of the centre, Dennis Ofosu-Apea, told Joy News his checks show a deliberate refusal to obey the orders of the court.

According to him, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Dr Afari Gyan is not prepared, in fact disagrees with the Supreme Court ruling and will continue to disenfranchise the prisoners.

He has petitioned President Atta Mills over the matter and has asked the court to cause the immediate arrest and imprisonment of key officers of the EC.

Attempts by Joy News to get a reaction from the EC proved futile.

Source: Joy


Afari-Gyan explains delay in enfranchising prisoners

Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission

Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan has stated that his outfit has encountered a number of bottlenecks in implementing the Supreme Court’s decision to allow prisoners to vote.

Reacting on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on Tuesday, to reports that the EC has been cited for contempt by a group for the Commission’s failure to execute the decision of the Supreme Court to allow prisoners to vote, Dr Afari-Gyan said the EC has been working steadily to ensure that the decision is put into action as soon as possible.

The Supreme Court, in a landmark decision on 24th March, 2010, gave the nod to all on remand and convicted prisoners in the country to exercise their franchise.

To cement its decision, the Court directed the EC to come out with a Legislative Instrument (LI) to create the legal framework that would facilitate the inclusion of prisoners in the voters register for the 2012 general elections.

The court, chaired by the Chief Justice, Mrs. Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, in a unanimous decision, upheld an application filed on behalf of remand and convicted prisoners by two legal practitioners, Ahumah Ocansey and Kojo Graham of the Centre for Human Rights and Civil Liberties (CHURCIL).

A civil rights group, Centre for Constitutional Order however believes the EC boss has disobeyed the order and therefore want him punished accordingly.

President of the Centre, Dennis Ofosu-Apea explained that their decision to cite the EC for contempt was borne out of the conviction that everyone’s rights must be respected and that the EC is not prepared to execute the court decision.

But Dr. Afari-Gyan says “the Commission has nothing against prisoners voting if the law so says. We have been working at it. We’ve held meetings with Prisons officials. We’ve collected the inmate population of all the various prisons and so on.”

Explaining the problems facing the EC, he said as the country is moving towards the implementation of a biometric voting system, another LI will have to be promulgated to encapsulate the changes that will come with the registration processes, suggesting it will be a waste of time to create a new LI now and change it in a few months after the biometric voting system parameters have been agreed upon.

Furthermore Dr. Afari-Gyan asked: “Are we setting the polling stations within the prisons? Will all prisons have adequate space for setting up polling stations and so on? If we set them outside the prisons, how do we ensure the safety and so on of anybody concerned?”

He stated that these consequential issues must be addressed in order to make any new legislation meaningful.

Dr. Afari-Gyan said it is probably a good idea to ask for an extension from the court as the processes have delayed but they will explain the difficulties to the court and “we believe that the court will understand and the court will know that we have not gone to sleep over the order; that we’ve been working steadily.”

Story by Derick Romeo Adogla/

No comments: