Editorial

Parliament begins consideration of Vigilantism Bill

PARLIAMENT has begun the consideration of the Vigilantism and Related Offences Bill, 2019. 

It is the second stage of the legislative journey of the ten-clause bill. 

The bill, laid in Parliament on April 11, 2019 under a certificate of urgency, seeks to disband political party vigilante groups in the country and to proscribe other acts of vigilantism. 

Contentious at the consideration which kicked off yesterday is how a group would be identified as a vigilante organisation. 

Though subject to second consideration, some of the amendments made to the bill is how many years a person(s) found guilty would spend behind bars. 

Per the bill, anyone who is found guilty is liable to a minimum of five years and a maximum of 15 years imprisonment. 

Contained in the Order Paper, the programme schedule of the House for yesterday, are 30 clauses proposed to be amended. 

Some of the vigilante groups captured in the bill are 66 Bench, Al Jazerra, Al Qaeda, Aluta Boys, Asamankese Forces, Baafira, Bukurisung, Burma Camp, Eastern Mambas and Gbewaa Youth. 

The rest are Lions, NATO Forces, Pentagon, Rasta Boys, Se Se Group, Taliban Boys, The Dragons, The Rock and Tohazie. 

The need for the Vigilante Law was occasioned by the gun violence that marred the January 31 Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election. 

At that poll following the demise of the Member of Parliament for the area, Emmanuel Agyarko, persons said to be members of the opposition National Democratic Congress allegedly clashed with mask-wearing National Security operatives leading to the injury of at least 18 people. 

The violence led to the constitution of the Justice Emile Short Commission which probed the incident. 

In furtherance to that, President Akufo-Addo, presenting the 2019 State of the Nation Address in February 2019, hinted of the Vigilantism and Related Offences Bill to address the issue. 

Though the three-member Commission has presented its report to President Akufo-Addo, it is yet to be published though the Minority in Parliament and the opposition NDC had requested for same. 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI 

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