Parliament: Detailed legislation needed to deal with vigilantism

The Minority has raised concerns over the Vigilantism and Related Offences Bill 2019 in Parliament since its current form has failed to tackle the root cause of vigilantism.

“The bill as presently presented lacks conceptual clarity, what are we dealing with? What is the problem? More detailed legislation is needed to deal with the menace,” it noted.

Minority spokesperson on legal affairs, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini raised the concerns addressing a stakeholder conference on the bill.

Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader, who also agreed with the Minority, called on the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament to eschew partisanship since the draft bill in its current form does not tackle the root cause of vigilantism. 

“Be less partisan and adversarial as possible in consideration of the bill in order to help Parliament craft a law that will decapitate the menace. The law of vigilantism may see the light of day soon as Parliament re-engages on draft bill considered under certificate of urgency,” he admonished. 

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu charged members of the committee to eschew their differences and ensure that an effective and efficient bill is passed.

At the forum aimed at eliciting stakeholder views before the bill is passed into law, he stressed that “the two main political parties are guilty of political violence, I do not want to talk about extent of guilt but stealing is stealing, guilt is guilt,” and warned that even though the nation is touted for its peace-loving and security conscious nature, nothing must be left to chance.

The Vigilantism and Other Related Offences Bill 2019 was laid before Parliament in April for consideration and approval by the House and passed into an Act to disband activities of vigilantism and prohibit formation of such groups.

It would be recalled President Akufo-Addo vowed to use legislation to address political vigilantism if the two main political parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) fail to resolve through dialogue in aftermath of the violent Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election.

The Justice Emile Short Commission of Inquiry that was tasked to investigate the violence has submitted its report.  

The bill before Parliament is perhaps the final push to completely bury political vigilantism sought to disband political party vigilante groups and proscribe acts of vigilantism, failure to comply with requirements of bill is punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five years and not more than fifteen years.

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