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06.09.2005 General News

Polygamy should be criminalized-- NGO

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Accra, Sept. 6, GNA - Polygamy should be criminalized under all forms of marriage to bring Ghanaian customary and religious marriage laws into compliance with the Constitution and international laws, an NGO advocated on Tuesday.

"The legislation should emphasize that polygamy, including the statutory, customary and Mohammedan's law, are prohibited in the state of Ghana," the Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa (LAWA-Ghana) said.

LAWA-Ghana said the legislation should also make clear that the ban applied only to marriages entered into after the law took effect and did not affect polygamous unions currently in force.

Mrs. Barbara Ayensu, a legal practitioner and Executive Director of LAWA-Ghana, presenting a paper at a legislative consultation meeting in Accra, said current marriage provisions and practices were embedded in religion and tradition which were discriminatory, and these needed to be critically looked at.

The meeting attended by various women advocates was held to deliberate on "Ensuring the Protection of Women's Rights in Enacting Laws on the Registration of Marriages in Ghana." Mrs. Ayensu said marriage laws needed to be revised because many of them still condone wife beatings for misbehaviour and other forms of violence against women and apply customary laws that favour men's ownership of land.

She argued that women in polygamous unions suffered in relation to their monogamous counterparts due to increased labour, more parental responsibilities, access to fewer financial resources, greater risk to their health, particularly of contracting HIV/AIDS and a large disparity in the amount they were allowed to inherit upon the death of their husbands.

Mrs. Ayensu therefore, impressed on government to support monogamous marriage as the ideal model in which one man was equal to one woman. "If equality between the genders in Ghana is to become a practical reality this must be the basic foundation from which the government approaches the problem."

Mrs. Sheila Menka-Premo, a lawyer and a member of LAWA who chaired the meeting, said their conclusions would be compiled and presented to the Attorney-Generals Department to be forwarded to the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs for consideration and adoption.

Ensure judicious use of public funds - CJ

Accra Sept. 6, GNA - Mr. Justice George Kingsley Acquah, Chief Justice on Tuesday said it behoves on every Ghanaian to ensure that public funds were effectively and judiciously utilised especially in the award and management of contracts.

He said, "For each of us has a duty to ensure a judicious and efficient use of public funds, and in this respect, we must at all times be guided by the supreme national interest in the award and management of contracts."

Mr Justice Acquah gave the advice after inaugurating Entity Tender Committee and Tender Review Board for the Service at the Supreme Court in Accra.

Mr. Justice Acquah, chairs the Tender Review Board, which has eight members, while the Entity Tender Committee has Mrs Regina A. Apotsi, the Judicial Secretary as the chairperson with other seven members. The inauguration of the two committees is to augment the provisions of Public Procurement Act 2003, which required the establishment of two bodies in every Public Procurement Entity.

The Chief Justice said although the objective of Act 663 was to secure in all public funded institutions, a judicious, economic and efficient use of state resources in a transparent manner, it has not taken into account the independent status of institutions such as parliament and the judiciary.

"For instance the Article 127 of the Constitution guarantees the administrative and financial independence of the judiciary. And we must therefore ensure that nothing is done imperceptibly to impede on our independence."

According to the Chief Justice, the intentions of the Act were noble and sound and with slight modification, every public institution funded by public funds would be able to operate within the ambit of the Act. He said the Judicial Service had already established a new division in their administrative set up which would be responsible in the designing and implementation of all its programmes and projects. The Chief Justice therefore challenged members of the two bodies to not only comply with the provision of the procurement Act but also conduct their procurement processes in a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory manner.

"I therefore charge each of the members of the two bodies to attend to his duty with dedication and honesty so as to ensure the objective, for which the committee were instituted," he added. Mr Abdullai Iddrisu, Deputy Judicial Secretary and a member of the Entity Tender Committee thanked the Chief Justice for the confidence reposed in them and promised to work within the law and the ethics of the legal profession.

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