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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Lawyer warns of chaos if citizens are allowed to sue government over social amenities

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A lawyer has described as chaotic, suggestions that Ghanaians must be given the legal right to prosecute if government fails to provide basic social amenity such as water.

Former Commissioner of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice Emile Short had suggested the amendment of the constitution to include an economic and social right in which citizens can take legal action against government if it fails to honour its responsibility to provide basic social services to its people.

He believes successive governments have failed in providing basic social amenities to the citizens and the time has come for the citizens to be empowered.

Speaking to Joy News’ Fiifi Koomson, Mr. Short believes such a law and a right to justice will ensure proper accountability from successive government.

“Unfortunately we are 54 years into independence and yet you find that, for example, you will find that the right to water is non-existent… so I think that for example, introducing an economic and social right into the constitution would make these rights more effective and will enable our people to hold government accountable where they haven’t met the standards that is expected of them,” he said.

According to him, the court is there to establish whether a case brought before government by a citizen is proper or not. He made the comments at the Constitution Review Conference on Wednesday.

He will be facilitating the session on Access to Justice during the conference.

But Tony Forson, Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Bar Association totally disagreed with the former commissioner.

Speaking in his personal capacity, Mr Forson told Joy News’ Dzifa Bampoe, such a recommendation will be chaotic.

He said once such a law is promulgated, everyone can proceed to court demanding a fulfillment of one basic need or another.

That, he said, will create an “unnecessary burden on an already over burdened court.”

According to him, once such a law is in place, courts will have no choice but to sit and provide remedies to the myriad of demands made by the citizens of the state.

He argued the Direct Principle of State Policy which is already in the constitution provides a guide as to what government should provide for its citizens.

He posited if the government fails in honouring its obligations, it will be made to account for its stewardship during an election year.

Mr. Forson said it will be a better option in ensuring government’s accountability than an unfettered access of the right to justice.

Play the attached audio for excerpts of the interview

Story by Nathan Gadugah/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

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