Cabinet is considering a community sentence policy that would make it possible for people who flout laws to be convicted to community service, the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has disclosed.
Community sentence is an alternative sentence in some countries that offers courts an option to punish convicts with community work instead of serving a prison term or capital punishment.
At the COVID-19 briefing in Accra yesterday, the minister said that punishment was not a sentence option for defying various restrictions to contain the COVID-19 because the country did not have a clearly defined policy on it.
He was answering a question on why the government did not proffer community service as punishment for COVID-19 restriction offenders instead of custodial sentence which would worsen congestion at the country’s prisons.
“That is how parliament made the laws [on restrictions]. Cabinet is considering a community sentence policy because you know in Ghana, we do not have proper community sentence policy. Cabinet is considering one. When successful, then when parliament is making laws, all these become options”, he said.
According to the Information Minister, the government had commenced engagement with various stakeholders to examine potential post restriction measures to ensure safety of citizens while allowing some normalcy.
He said he had already met with and received proposals on potential easing measures from the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI); education community, transport operators, sports community and faith based organisations.
“The government is grateful to all these groups and the others who would be engaged in the coming days for their cooperation so far. But note that the fact that you are being engaged does not mean that the proposals that have come from you have been accepted or that the restrictions have been amended or lifted currently.
“The restrictions remain in full force and offenders would be arrested and prosecuted. The engagement is only for post restriction scenarios and should be clearly understood as such” he said.
According to the minister who is also the Member of Parliament for Ofoase-Ayirebi, Cabinet was also considering a legal option to ensure stricter enforcement of personal protective equipment protocols.
On his part, the Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, said the recent infection at Obuasi and Tema Fishing Processing Company, was still under investigation.
He said as part of the government’s engagement with employers, a guideline on how to handle a possible spread of the virus at various work places would be announced later.
The minister called for adherence to various safety protocols as this was the only “cure”, to the virus, which according to him would stay with the world for a long time like other diseases.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR