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24.11.2007 General News

Supreme Court fixes ruling date on writ against AMA on Nov. 28

Supreme Court fixes ruling date on writ against AMA on Nov. 28

The Supreme Court (SC) will on Wednesday, November 28 fix a date for ruling, on a writ brought against the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) by an Accra legal practitioner challenging the Assembly's constitutional right to engage certain people to carry human excreta.

This will be after the AMA has filed its response to the writ filed at the SC by Nana Adjei Ampofo, sometime in April last year.

The Attorney-General (A-G), the principal legal officer to the government, is jointly sued with the AMA, This is because the AMA as a government entity is to be represented or defended by the A-G.

Nana Ampofo in his writ is seeking a declaration from the court that the act or practice of AMA in engaging the services of certain Ghanaians to carry faeces or toilet in pans on their heads is an affront to their dignity.

Furthermore, he is praying the court to restrain AMA to abolish the practice, since in his view, it is not only cruel and inhuman, but also degrading to the carriers as human beings.

One other relief being sought by Nana Ampofo is for the court to direct the AMA to abolish the practice, since it is inconsistent with, and contravenes Article 15 of the 1992 Constitution, which states among other things, that the dignity of all persons shall be inviolable, and that no person shall whether or not he is arrested restricted or detained, be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments or punishment.

In his submissions, he argued that as a citizen of Ghana he knew that a provision of the Constitution had been breached by the AMA, he did not need any special interest, and that being a Ghanaian, it was enough for him to bring the action against AMA under the Constitution

He argued that the public interest considerations required the immediate abolishing of the practice, as it constituted a health hazard to the carriers and promoted the spread of diseases.

Nana Ampofo submitted that if AMA made bye-laws banning the practice, and ensured compliance, house owners would provide more hygienic places of convenience, adding that the Assembly could also provide on site disposal systems or hygienic collection, treatment and off-site disposal systems.

He further submitted that the use of pan latrines ought to be abolished or banned in a country that was aspiring to achieve the middle-income status by 2015.

Concluding, Nana Ampofo argued that the carriers often referred to as "latrine boys", "do not work out of choice", and that by carrying the pans on their heads, the human excreta at times spilled over and drilled on to the shoulders of the carriers with its attendant stench.

In his view, therefore, the practice must be abolished.

The five-member panel of the SC hearing the suit is presided over by Mrs Justice Sophia Akuffo, with Mr Justice Steve Brobbey, Mr Justice R T Aninakwah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira and Mr Justice K Asiamah as members.