The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has raised concerns over the insistence of both the National Identification Authority (NIA) and Electoral Commission (EC) to respectively go ahead with the Ghana Card registration in the Eastern Region and the compilation of a new voter register amid the Coronavirus scare.
CHRAJ in a statement indicated that the two-state institutions’ disregard of the President’s directive is in breach of the international and regional human rights instruments and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for which Ghana is a State Party and a signatory as well as the existing World Health Organization (WHO) precautionary measures aimed at containing and combating COVID-19.
The Commission, therefore, wants the President to order the bodies to without delay, suspend the planned activities to uphold the rights-based approach in protecting the right to the health of all persons in Ghana in accordance with law.
“The Commission is of the considered view that the President or the Inter-Ministerial Committee calls the NIA to order by suspending forthwith its ongoing registration exercise in the Eastern Region until the COVID-9 pandemic normalizes.”
“In the same vein, the Commission calls on the President of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on COVID-19 to advise the EC on the potential public health risk and safety associated with the planned Voters’ Registration due to the danger or threat that any mass gathering arising from such an exercise can pose to the health and life of the people,” CHRAJ noted.
Currently, the number of Coronavirus cases in Ghana has risen to 11.
The country is, however, likely to record more cases of COVID-19 within the next two weeks, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has disclosed.
Provision of PPEs
Meanwhile, the Commission has further recommended that Government as a matter of urgency provide protective gear and equipment to all hospitals and health facilities both private and public and to all health professionals directly “handling COVID-19 suspected cases to mitigate the looming contagion in the protection of the rights to health and life of these professionals who are exposed to serious risks of contracting the deadly virus in the line of duty on a daily basis.”
Two citizens have sued the NIA over the mass registration and issuance of the Ghana card to Ghanaians in the Eastern Region amid the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
The plaintiffs, Kevow Mark-Oliver and Emmanuel Akumatey Okrah argue in their writ that the continuous registration and issuance of the Ghana card in the Eastern Region has a strong tendency in “aggravating the spread of the coronavirus.”
They are among other things seeking an interlocutory injunction restraining the NIA from continuing with the exercise until the coronavirus has been eliminated.
“That the 1st Respondent's continuous registration and issuance of the Ghana card violate the presidential directives. That the 1st Respondent's continuous registration and issuance of the Ghana card violate the Imposition of Restrictions Bill, 2020,” excerpts of the writ said.
The NIA earlier this week said it will continue with the Ghana Card registration despite the misgivings from some of its officers because of the novel coronavirus.
The Authority released guidelines for its officers in line with the government's new directives on public gatherings to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in Ghana.
But the Advocacy and Research at the Africa Centre for Health Policy, has described the protocols by the National NIA put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Eastern Region as impractical.
For the EC, although it had wanted to compile a new voters' register on April 18, the exercise will not come off on the said date, following the President's four-week ban on public gatherings.
It, however, said the compilation has not been canceled.