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AG piling up pressure, emotional stress on Rasta kids – Lawyer

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The two were admitted by the school but were asked to cut their dreadlocks

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The lawyer for Rastafarian student, Oheneba Kwaku Nkrabea, Ras Wayoe Ghanamannti, has described as unfortunate the Attorney General’s appeal against the High Court’s ruling in the Rasta kids case.

Speaking on GHOne TV Tuesday, the lead Counsel argued that the flagrant disrespect of the interest of these kids which is paramount per the principles of the law is problematic.

He fears the children would be affected psychologically as the case has been advanced further at the Appeals court.

“The psychological trauma, the instability, the emotional stress, and those ambits of it is what is worrying us because these are children, these are young guys, and they’ve started going to school so at the end of the day any such decision will traumatize them. And we think that this is what the AG should have considered. Because if you look at our law – the Children’s Act, Section 2, on the very first principle, it’s clear that in everything that we seek to do the interest of the Child is paramount and even court of law and all other agents of security and all other persons would respect that principle that the interest of a child is paramount.

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“So we thought that considering this case and their interest in respect of education, the AG would have allowed this to pass and if there is any future advancing of the rules Achimota is using holistically to preserve and protect minority rights like these rights of the Rastas we are talking about it would be looked at but to bring this appeal on and to pile up pressure and emotional stress on the children is unfortunate.”

The Achimota School board and the Attorney-General’s Department have filed an appeal to challenge the Human Rights High Court’s order for the school to admit the two dreadlock-wearing students.

The Achimota School per the appeal said, the court among others things erred by indicating that the rules and regulations of Achimota School with regard to ensuring uniformity in appearance is unlawful and interferes with the manifestation of one’s religious rights.

The school board has therefore filed the appeal to have the entire judgment set aside and the plaintiff ordered to comply with the school’s regulations if he (Tyrone Marhguy) chooses to be a student of the school.

Also, the AG’s office has also filed an appeal on the case, asking the court to uphold Achimota School’s arguments and rule in favor of the school.

The notice of appeal said the judge who adjudicated that matter and gave victory to the two boys failed to get the plaintiffs to provide evidence of their claims.

The AG’s office also said the judge erred in claiming that Achimota School had interfered with the right to the education of the boys.

“The learned Judge erred when she held that the regulation of the 1st Respondent requiring that students keep their hair low amounted to an illegal and unconstitutional attempt to suspend the manifestation of the Applicant’s guaranteed freedom to practice and manifest his religion…”

Background

The Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court on Monday, May 31, 2021 ordered Achimota School to admit the two embattled Rastafarian students.

The Court presided over Justice Gifty Agyei Addo ruled that the fundamental human rights of two students cannot be limited by the rules of Achimota School.

The two, Tyrone Marghuy and Oheneba Kweku Nkrabea through their parents filed suits urging the court for enforcement of their fundamental rights to education.

The applicants asked the court to “declare that the failure and or refusal of the 1st Respondent (Achimota School Board of Governors) to admit or enroll the Applicant on the basis of his Rastafarian religious inclination, beliefs and culture characterized by his keeping of Rasta is a violation of his fundamental human rights and freedoms guaranteed under the 1992 constitution particularly Articles 12(1), 23, 21(1)(b)(c)”.

The two students also wanted “an order directed at [Achimota School] to immediately admit or enrol the applicant to continue with his education unhindered.”

The applicants further sought compensation for the “inconvenience, embarrassment, waste of time, and violation of his fundamental human rights and freedoms”.

The two were admitted by the school but were asked to cut their dreadlocks in conformity with the school rules.

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