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02.06.2005 General News

Law on assault is too vague - GNAT

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Accra, June 2, GNA - The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) on Thursday called for review of section 69 and 84 of the Criminal Code 1960.

The section, which deals with assault and battery according to GNAT General Secretary Mrs Irene Duncan-Adanusa, was too vague and called on Parliament to review it.

Mrs Duncan-Adanusa was speaking at a press conference in Accra to express the Association's position on the recent assault cases at Tamale on Mr Abdallah Mohammed, a Teacher at the Lady of Fatima Primary School and at Dormaa-Ahenkro on Mr Francis Osei of Dormass Primary School.

Assault is defined as a violent attack, either physical or verbal, an unlawful threat or unsuccessful attempt to do physical harm to another, causing a present fear of immediate harm, a sudden attack upon a fortified place or the close-combat phase of an attack. Battery is defined as act of beating, or pounding, or touching of another person, either directly or with an object.

The GNAT General Secretary said apart from the law being vague the punishment was also not punitive enough to serve as a deterrent to people, who committed assault and battery especially against public officers in the performance of their duties.

In the case involving Mr Mohammed, a Tamale Circuit Court had sentenced Shaibu Sahmunu, an Electrician, to a day's imprisonment and a one million-cedi fine for assaulting the teacher and imposed a 500,000-cedis fine each on two other accomplices, Haruna Noagur and Thick Mallam, both Auto Mechanics.

The fourth accused person, Rufia Ibrahim, also an Auto Mechanic, was fined 400,000 cedis.

In default, Sahmunu would serve six months' imprisonment while the three others would serve a three-month jail term each.

Mrs Duncan-Adanusa expressed concern about the recent spate of unwarranted attacks on teachers and urged society to recognise that the school environment was a respectable and sacrosanct institution suitable for nurturing both desirable character and acute intellect.

She called for enforcement of simple rule of conduct "whatever happened at the school was a school matter and must not be taken home. This simple rule restricted all incidents in the school within the confines of the school compound and in the competent hands of the staff".

The GNAT General Secretary admitted that some teachers might be wrong in meting out punishment to a pupil or be excessive in the same way that parents or guardians could be wrong in handling their own children at home.

"But that does not give the aggrieved parent or guardian the right to take the law into his or her own hands to confront and humiliate the teacher sometimes in the presence of their own students. This is bound to destroy morale or discipline among students."

She noted "teaching, like any other profession is full of occupational hazards. That is why parents should exercise restraint when they feel their children have been maltreated by their teachers". Mrs Duncan-Adanusa advised aggrieved parents having complaints against a school or teacher to contact the Head of the institution, discuss the problem to avoid unfortunate confrontation and legal actions.

She also appealed to the Concern Parents Association to educate their members to seek redress under Ghana Education Services Regulations and GNAT Code of Conduct.

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