Martin Kpebu - Private Legal Practitioner
A private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu has cautioned against the harsh punishments soon to be laid before Parliament to regulate the directive on wearing of nose masks amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
According to him, the only way to get more Ghanaians to adhere to safety protocols is to enhance education or engagement.
His comment comes on the back of a disclosure by the Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, that plans are far advanced to make illegal the non-wearing of nose masks.
While speaking in an interview, Mr Kpebu recommended that the penalty should be less than the ones captured in the Imposition of Restrictions Act, 2020.
“Even though it will not be written in the law, we have to start education. Those of us who are literates, understand things easily so we take many things for granted, thinking that our fellow countrymen also understand. But it doesn’t work that way. A lot of our people are illiterates and so they need education. And I’m expecting that the law will put in provisions such as on the first arrest of a person, the offender should not be brought before a court of law.”
“He/she should be cautioned at the police station. On the second occasion, then they’ll fine him/her. The fine should reflect our economic situation in Ghana. We don’t want the kind of fine that has already been stipulated in the Imposition of Restrictions Act. Those fines are too high,” he remarked.The Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, on Thursday, May 14, said the government is making plans to arrest persons who refuse to adhere to basic guidelines in the fight against COVID-19 such as wearing of nose masks in public.
According to him, such persons could face a three-month jail term for not adhering to the COVID-19 safety protocols issued out by the Ghana Health Service.
Mandatory wearing of masks
Food vendors, commercial vehicle drivers, public transports managers, and every other facility accessible to the public have been engaged to ensure the compulsory wearing of nose masks, following the constant increase in COVID-19 cases in Ghana.
This order, which complies with the Public Health Act, was given in a statement issued by the Ghana Health Service on behalf of the Minister of Health.
But even after this order, a section of the pubic still do not put on the nose masks, putting themselves and any other person at risk of spreading the disease.
This has caused frustrations to the Health Minister making emphasis on the issue while addressing the media on Tuesday, May 5.
In effect, he appealed to Ghanaians to abide by all the necessary protocols, especially the wearing of nose masks, to curb the further spread of the virus.