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25.02.2006 General News

Passage of ROP Law is indefensible -Koi Larbi

The immediate past NPP Member of Parliament (MP) for Akropong, Agyare Koi Larbi, has described the passage of the Representation of the People Law as an indefensible act and a waste of precious public time and resources.

“Given the extent of impoverishment of the citizenry and the near collapse of almost all public institutions, I find it difficult to see how any government can use public funds to finance such a quixotic exercise. The filth in the villages and cities tells a story of confused priorities,” he said.

The former MP, who spoke to the Daily Graphic shortly after delivering a statement to the Majority Leader of Parliament counselling against the passage of ROPAB, described the action as unfortunate, especially given the widespread disdain for it by Ghanaians, in particular many civil society groups and political parties which were stakeholders in the country's democratic exercise.

According to Mr Koi Larbi, the proponents of the bill were evading the argument and not placing it in its right perspective.

“The assertions that current legislation discriminates against Ghanaians outside the country is totally false. What proponents of the bill forget is that there are necessary limitations on the application and enforcement of laws, rights and the Constitution of the Republic,” he said.

“The courts of Ghana have a geographical limitation. Whatever rights any Ghanaian claims are enforceable only within the boundaries of Ghana. Geographical limitations apart, we also have to contend with limitations imposed by administrative mechanisms to enforce electoral and other rights claimed by Ghanaians,” he argued.

“For instance, while the Constitution gives every Ghanaian the right to go to court on any issue, that right is necessarily circumscribed by the administrative directives of the Chief Justice.

For instance, the Chief Justice may prescribe the payment of specific fees before any document is filed. However good a litigant's case may be, the court will not allow him to file his case until the prescribed fees are paid. Rules of court may prescribe that certain cases cannot be filed in court after a certain period,” he contended.

The former Akropong MP said those qualifications were attached to ensure order and prevent chaos.

“The idea that any right can exist without any administrative limitation is incorrect.

The citizen's right to vote is also limited by geographical and administrative mechanisms, such as registration at a polling station.

These limitations cannot be considered as an infringement on the rights of Ghanaians, whether they are in Ghana or outside Ghana,” he said.

He said Ghana's law enforcement officers could only enforce Ghana's laws within the geographical entity of Ghana.

“If ballot boxes are sent to far away places in America, Europe, etc., Ghanaian prosecutors and courts cannot punish anybody for electoral offences outside the country.

On the other hand, Ghanaian officials performing national duty outside Ghana are by law subject to sanction by Ghanaian courts and law enforcement to the full acknowledgement of the host countries.

They may be recalled anytime, their salaries and pensions can be stopped or attached per any judicial order,” he argued.

He contended that it was improper to compare the two categories of Ghanaians because they were very different.

“To ignore legal realities and proceed to pass such a bill is, to say the least, very unfortunate and dangerous,” he said.