Hon Members, we are honoured this morning to have a high- powered delegation from the Kingdom of Morocco — [Hear! Hear!.] Indeed, the King sent a delegation led by the Rt Hon Speaker of Morocco to our 60th Independence Anniversary yesterday — [Hear! Hear!] And the Rt Hon Speaker has found it necessary to visit us this morning. We had discussions with the entire Leadership earlier and we are now here for them to make a few observations of proceedings. I will respectfully introduce the delegation accordingly. 1. Rt Hon Habib El Malki — (Speaker of the Moroccan Parliament) 2. Mr Belcaid Amal — (Director of Foreign Relations and Cooperation) 3. H.E Hamid Chabar — (Ambassador of Morocco to Ghana) 4. Mr Abdelouahed Bekki — (Counsellor at the Embassy- Accra) 5. Indura Toure — (P.A to H.E the Ambassador) They are most welcome and we wish them a very good stay, both in Parliament and throughout their stay in our country. Thank you very much.
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 — Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. Hon Members, Votes and Proceedings dated Friday, 3rd March, 2017 — Page 1, 2, 3 —
Mr Speaker, I was marked present on page 3, but I was out of the jurisdiction for --
Mr Speaker, number 91.
Hon Member, thank you very much. I am sure the electronic system should come soon to save us some of these troubles. Page 4, 5, ...9
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, just for your attention. On page 9: the Communication from the Office of the President on the appointment of Deputy Ministers; even though reference is made to article 256 (2) of the Constitution, I would want to believe that this belongs to Deputy Regional Ministers, so that a distinction is made with other Deputy Ministers with respect to other -- Like I said, it may not be too harmful of an issue, but it should be Deputy Regional Ministers because the remit under article 256 (2) is different from what pertains in article 79. Thank you.
Hon Member, thank you. Hon Members, page 10, 11 . . . 14. Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 3rd March, 2017, as corrected are hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, item number 3 -- Statements -- I have admitted a number of Statements this morning. Statement by the Hon Member for Subin on disturbances at Kumasi Technical Institute (KTI) and its implications. Hon Member?
I am most grateful. Mr Speaker, I rise to make a Statement on the recent disturbances in my constituency involving some police personnel and students of the Kumasi Technical Institute (KTI) who were returning from the Kumasi Sports Stadium after participating in the ongoing inter- schools and colleges athletics compe- tition. As a result of the confrontation, some students sustained various degrees of injury and got hospitalised. Mr Speaker, the conduct of the students was reprehensible and needed to be stopped. Notwithstanding, the high- handed approach adopted by the Ghana Police Service is most regrettable and condemnable. The unreasonable use of tear gas, live bullets, et cetera , in controlling the students, who, upon the appearance of the Police at the scene, had started running for their dear lives is most unfortunate. I, therefore, call for calm from the authorities of KTI as well as the Ghana Police Service since either of them is claiming innocence. As the Hon Member of Parliament for the Subin Constituency under whose jurisdiction this shameful act of lawlessness took place, I would want to resist the temptation of taking sides on the matter, but to ask the appropriate authorities, including the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), to conduct comprehensive investigations into the unfortunate occurrence. This investigation would obviously help us to unearth the real antecedents to the unfortunate happenings of Tuesday, 14th February, 2017, and thereby grant us enough grounds to proffer solutions in guiding us not to find ourselves again in this unfortunate situation. I, however, believe that culprits who would be found to have perpetrated the despicable disturbances after thorough investigations be dealt with in accordance with law, to serve as a deterrent to any of the two parties who may be thinking of repeating same in future.
Meanwhile, I want to take this opportunity to wish the students who sustained various degrees of injury and got hospitalised a very speedy recovery. In the same breadth, I do extend my sincerest “get-well-soon” message to the police personnel who are said to have suffered injuries during the melee. May I also plead that parents whose wards were affected take heart and allow the appropriate authorities to deal with the matter by resorting to dialogue and due process to resolve the matter. I urge that we exercise patience and wait calmly until full investigations are completed. This, I believe when fully adhered to, would obviously give us a lasting solution to the impasse and also help us to prevent any such ugly incidents from happening again. Once again, I am most grateful, Mr Speaker, for granting me audience.
Hon Member, thank you very much, particularly for your brevity and clarity. Hon Members, any contributions on the Statement so ably made?
Hon Member, are you on your feet?
Mr Speaker, yes, I am on my feet.
You have the floor.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Yes, Hon Samuel O. Ablakwa?
I am most grateful, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to this Statement. I would want to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement, especially for his approach in staying in the middle and refusing to take sides, in commiserating with the students who became victims of the unrest and the policemen who were injured in the attempt to enforce law and order. Mr Speaker, I intend to adopt that same approach. In these matters, it is important to allow for investigations to be carried out fully. The outcome of the investigations will then let us know who was at fault and what we must do to apply sanctions to those who may have to face them, and also how can we ensure that this does not recur? Mr Speaker, I would want to speak to the preventive mechanism that can be adopted. I do know that in the 1980s and early 1990s, there were numerous incidents of this nature. That is what led to the formation of the regional students representative councils, which persons like Mr Gayheart Mensah spearheaded at the time. He was a student activist at Achimota School at the time. The motto of the Students Representative Council (SRC) as was fashioned out was “Emancipation of Students through Dialogue and a Philosophy of non-violence.” So, it was the students' own attempt to create avenues for dialogue and to ensure that students are able to seek redress using peaceful mechanisms that can forestall violence, so that whatever the issues are, they can be resolved in good time, so that it does not escalate to what happened at the KTI. Mr Speaker, I believe that the SRC experiment has helped. I am a product of that experiment. I was Trustee of the Greater Accra Students' Representative Council, and I know that some Hon Members in this House have also served on these SRCs. But unfortunately, at that level, we could not have a national consensus -- we could not have a national SRC, so, the experiment worked in only a few regions: Greater Accra, Ashanti and Eastern. But even now, I do know that the SRCs are quite challenged. Mr Speaker, at that level, the authorities prefer to utilise the prefectorial councils and to aid them. The SRCs are seen as bodies that are a bit antagonistic, which would want to rival the prefectorial councils. Then it leads to a situation where the impression is created that the SRCs are for students and the prefectorial councils represent the authorities. Mr Speaker, the point I am trying to make substantively is we should encourage mechanisms that allow for student grievances to be brought to the fore in good time through organised structures. Authorities should also be more responsive. Naturally, when people feel that they are not being heard, that they do not have a voice, then they turn to some of these means which are not democratic, not peaceful, and disturb the peace of a country. Mr Speaker, I believe that we are reminded by this Statement and by this occurrence that we need to work with school managements to take a second look at the responsive mechanisms that they have within their administrative responsibilities. Also, they should try to give the students a voice. They should recognise the SRCs and the prefectorial councils. They should find ways of allowing whatever concerns and grievances they have to be brought to the fore so that they could respond to it very quickly. Mr Speaker, I would want to commend the Hon Minister for Education, Hon Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, who acted swiftly. I followed this matter closely and I know that as soon as it happened, the Hon Minister took a flight the next day and visited the school. He engaged with students and authorities of that institute and he has promised full-scale investigations. We are all awaiting the outcome of the investigation. Mr Speaker, I believe the approach that has been adopted this morning by the Hon Member of Parliament for the area, in wanting to stay in the middle is the right one. We must all, however, say “no” to violence no matter what the issues or grievances are. Things should not have deteriorated as they did. We should never encourage violent ways of resolving concerns no matter what the grievances are. Mr Speaker, so, we all await the outcome of the investigations. We hope that those carrying out the investigations would be fair and they would do a good job. I also hope that they would make recommendations that can help us forestall these incidents. They are becoming quite a number. We do know that there have been some secondary schools that have witnessed these in recent times. We all have to be concerned about that. Mr Speaker, the students are supposed to learn in an environment which is conducive for studies and will also engender unity and togetherness. We should not, as it were, have situations where students are sent to school and what we hear is that they are engaged in all kinds of untoward acts. So we would also want to see some more leadership from the unions. We would want to see some more leadership also from the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) and other like-minded organisations so that we see how they could be more responsible working together with the various student unions at that level. I believe that an amicable solution could be found towards a long-term resolution of these matters. Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity.
Hon Quartey, I saw you earlier. Have you abandoned your quest?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I beg to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Member for Subin. Mr Speaker, first of all, mostly, the Police Administration is drawn into matters of this nature that tend to create an impression that the whole Police Administration is not doing its job well. Mr Speaker, the Ghana Police Service is a very professional institution that discharges its duties professionally. I say so because when we look at their peacekeeping missions that they attend to, the Ghana Police Service has always excelled in its duties. However, some few police personnel and their actions tend to create that impression for the Ghana Police Service. Mr Speaker, interestingly, and much as we embrace technology in the 21st century, I believe that going back to the olden days when your goodselves were in school, some of the things that we are seeing today which are being influenced by the introduction of technology were not there. Mr Speaker, I humbly would want to appeal, through our very indefatigable Hon Minister for Education to the Ghana Education Service (GES) to find a way to relate to the various institutions for some leverage to come to the Education Service by way of monitoring and supervision. Mr Speaker, I say so because we know that in our days, one could not even carry mobile phones and other things to school. Today, wherever one goes mobile phones are even being used in the classrooms. They tend to copy some of these things because they watch them on their internet. Mr Speaker, let me also commend, as my Hon Colleague on the other side of the aisle did, the Hon Minister for Education, Hon Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, for the swiftness with which he acted. I am sure that investigations are being conducted, so I am being careful not to take sides. I hope and pray that sooner or later, the report would come out and the appropriate thing would be done. With these few words, I thank you very much.
Thank you very much. Yes, Hon Member?
I thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Hon Member who made the Statement, my Hon Colleague from Subin, and add that it is sometimes baffling why the police officialdom will issue guns with live bullets for purposes of crowd control. The regulatory regime governing matters of this nature are very clear. I recall our days in the University of Ghana, anytime we embarked on a demonstration and they had to disperse us, they would use the water cannon and we would all run away. So it is unfortunate that these days, at events of this nature, they would want to use live bullets, and not even rubber ones. It is a matter that is recurring and it came to the attention of this House. I remember the Hon Member for Kumbugu raised the matter regarding the use of live bullets in ammunitions by the Police Service in matters of this nature. Mr Speaker, I recall that you gave a directive and a few weeks down the lane, it has recurred. I believe that it may happen again and so, a firm directive must be given
to the Police Service that, yes, in addition to the use of the Public Order Act and the issues governing crowd control, they must desist from issuing guns with live bullets to personnel for purposes of controlling the marauding crowd. This is because once the marauding crowd behaves in such a way that they are unable to control them, they are likely to resort to the gun, and in the gun, is a live bullet and not a rubber one. Mr Speaker, when guns are used in such manner, nobody could tell its effect. Sometimes, they do not even aim. They release them as warning shots and in doing so, the bullets could hit anybody. Sometimes, victims are not even persons who are partaking in the event; they are other ordinary citizens who are minding their own businesses who get injured, oftentimes resulting in fatalities. So, Mr Speaker, I would urge that today's debate must not end here and that a firm resolution be passed and directed at the hierarchy of the Police Service that, live bullets in ammunitions must not be issued to personnel for purposes of crowd control. I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this Statement. I would want to congratulate my good Friend who issued this Statement. Mr Speaker, under article 200, particularly clause 3 of our Constitution, the Ghana Police Service has the mandate to maintain law and order. Under the same Constitution, even people under arrest are not supposed to be subjected to any inhumane treatment and abuse of their human rights. Mr Speaker, these students were not part of the demonstration. They had gone into their dormitories and some were even in their dormitories when the demonstration was going on. Mr Speaker, the indiscriminate assault of these students in their dormitories constitutes a criminality which ought to be punished. They were committing acts of assaults simpliciter. Under same circumstances, anybody who unlawfully assaults a citizen of this country should be subjected to criminal prosecution. These policemen cannot hide behind the authority of the Police Service to perpetuate violence on citizens of this nation. If it had been a civilian walking the streets and entering a students' dormitory and subjecting these students to torture, the same Police would have arrested that civilian. Is it the case that the policeman perpetuating criminality cannot be subjected to the law? I am not sure that is the intent of our laws in the country. Mr Speaker, apart from the criminal trial that these police officers ought to be subjected to, these people who were assaulted have the right to go to the court to demand compensation for these tortuous acts. We ought to encourage civil society also to resort to the law in claiming what is duly theirs. Mr Speaker, the Constitution only allows for compensation for victims of unlawful arrest. The Constitution did not anticipate the people who are mandated to maintain law and order to breach the law and therefore, did not make any provision for restitution under the Constitution. Mr Speaker, I therefore, humbly pray that an order or advice be sent to the populace, that apart from the criminal prosecutions that these people are liable, the populace also have the right to resort to the law in claiming damages under the criminal or civil act of assault. They have just been assaulted, particularly, those who did not participate in the demonstration and who were peacefully resting in their various dormitories. Mr Speaker, this is an act of violence against innocent citizens and must be seen as such, membership of the Police Service notwithstanding. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. Hear! Hear!
Any contribution from Leadership on this matter? Very well. We move on to the next Statement which stands in the name of Hon (Dr) Zenator Agyeman-Rawlings -- Hon Member of Parliament for Klottey Korle on the perennial flooding in Klottey Korle and its environs. Perennial flooding in Klottey Korle Constituency and its environs
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to make a Statement on an issue that I am very passionate about, which is the environment. Mr Speaker, it was with a sense of reassurance when I read the Third Report on the Appointments Committee on the vetting of the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation as well as Works and Housing. Their statements highlighted most of the issues related to the aetiology of our woes during the rainy season in Accra. Mr Speaker, much as I applaud their commitment, I am concerned about the timelines for implementation, given the fact that we have already experienced one major rainstorm this year. With the onset of the early rains comes panic, a sense of helplessness and insecurity due to internal displacement, loss of lives and property and disease outbreaks within our communities. We cannot prevent the storms, but we can certainly expedite measures to mitigate the effects of rainfall on our quality of life. The general trend is, most drains following each rain storm are overflowing with plastics and other non-biodegradable waste. Some of the reasons for the flooding include; poor disposal of refuse and choked drains; the loss of attenuation reservoirs, between Aburi and Accra; flouting of the laws regarding| planning, building structures in waterways and a drainage system that no longer has the capacity to contain volume of floodwater due to rainfall. The pattern of rainfall has become very erratic due to climate change; and the subsequent flooding in Klottey Korle and other parts of the Greater Accra Region has become a perennial affair. In fact, there were several incidents of flooding in 2015 and 2016. For example, in January 2015, there were two heavy downpours that resulted in severe flooding in the Klottey Korle Constituency and other constituencies in low lying areas surrounding the Odaw River with water
Hon Member, thank you very much for this wonderful Statement. Those who have spoken would spare me.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to associate myself with the very important Statement made by the Hon Member for Klottey Korle. Mr Speaker, my constituency, Adentan, is experiencing floods where there were no floods before. It is a very serious situation where property and lives are concerned and I believe that the key factors are to do with our own actions where we are not enforcing land use policies effectively. We seem to be confusing the right to own land with the right to do anything one would want on that piece of land, leading to a situation where people are building on waterways and trying to divert waterways with retaining walls. I had a
difficulty. Last week, after the major rains, I toured areas in my constituency where rivers had become zigzag by individual walls in an attempt to protect households from the effect of flowing water but these walls had fallen and broken and threatened the households because of the force with which the water flows from the Aburi Hills into my constituency. Mr Speaker, it is probably the time to think urgently about how we view urban development now. When we try to tackle this problem, we would find that we are dealing with a myriad of agencies who are not even cooperating. We would find utility services being extended to areas in a very haphazard manner and we would find water pipes all over the place, obstructing electricity poles, obstructing gutters, telephone poles close to where streets should be demarcated. Basically, a situation where very essential and necessary urban services including public spaces for sanitation are fighting for space for themselves, as if these are services that are being offered individually when it ought not to be the case. Urban planning ought to be integrated to enable those services appear in suburbs in an orderly manner, so that they reinforce each other rather than disintegrate the efforts of each other. Mr Speaker, until we do something about urban planning, I dare say that the problem of flooding would continue to escalate. It is not enough to desilt courses of rivers which have been diverted deliberately by human beings. We must enforce land use, integrate urban planning and insist on strengthening the institutions that are directly and primarily responsible for urban planning, particularly the Town and Country Planning Department. Mr Speaker, unless we are able to do that, then the figures, I heard being quoted by the Hon Minister for Works and Housing of US$700 million to construct the main arteries for draining Accra city, would not be enough. This is because we have minor arterial drains that may cost even more, and how are we going to raise this money if we keep exacerbating the problem by continuing to build indiscriminately and continue to spread utility services indiscriminately? Mr Speaker, so, I believe that it is time that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in particular, the Town and Country Planning Department, Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, the Ministry of Works and Housing and also the utility companies associated with urban settlements to determine a way of working together that would go into new settlements as these settlements come up. We cannot continue to put settlements in the bush and then chase those settlements with utility services. That is one of the reasons we have the situation that we have.
Mr Speaker, thank you and I rise to contribute to the Statement by Hon Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings. If structural and non-structural measures are not put in place in this country to mitigate the flood disasters, then we would continue to experience flood disasters in this country, especially in the city of Accra. Mr Speaker, Accra is drained by nine basins which overflow its banks most at times and destroy properties in the communities. The simple reason is that people have built in these basins. Developers have built in the basins and encroached even on safe havens. If we experience more serious disasters in this city, we would not have safe havens for people to run to. Mr Speaker, maybe the Ghana Police Service would be compelled to stop vehicular movement for people to run to the lorry roads. So, it is time we looked at the safe havens that were created some years ago that developers have encroached on. Mr Speaker, if we look at where people are building -- we have building regulations and code and NADMO has come out with a building guide that has been published for this country but what is happening? Developers are doing their own thing and not taking into considerations the regulations and the code that we have in this country. Mr Speaker, then there is the behaviour of our citizens; people throw garbage into open gutters when it is raining and they also throw garbage into flowing water and do not care where the garbage would end. We thank God that Zoomlion Ghana Limited is doing very well in waste management; people even wait for Zoomlion to come into their homes to collect garbage. Mr Speaker, if it continues, what would happen? The spirit of communalism has died in this country. Gone are the days when the gong gong is beaten and people come out in their numbers for communal labour. Mr Speaker, but these days, any time that we organise a communal labour in a community, people would be expecting a packed lunch. The communal spirit in this country is dying and so we have to sensitise our people. It is the responsibility of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to educate our people and to make sure that people adhere to the building regulations that we have in this country. Mr Speaker, then also, there is the lack of coordination between the development partners. The developing agencies lack proper coordination. I was an eyewitness when there was flooding in some part of Ho, last year. The reason was that the Department of Urban Roads was developing a drainage system in an area. Unfortunately, there was a pipeline that they did not know, so the machine had to cut the pipeline. There was torrential rain and the place got flooded. When we called the Ghana Water Company Limited, they said we should go to the Department of Urban Roads because they destroyed their pipelines. So, I wish to talk about the lack of coordination. This is because, if they had consulted the Ghana Water Company Limited, they would have been told that they had laid some pipelines over there. So, there is not proper coordination. But, Mr Speaker, without proper coordination when it comes to disaster management, then all our efforts would be in vain. We thank God that the previous administration tackled the problem of the drainage system in Accra, especially the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, under the good leadership of the Hon Oko Vanderpuje. They tackled the problem of the drainage system in Accra because it was worse. [Interruption.] I said the previous Administration tackled the problem on the drainage system in Accra.
Hon Member, do you rise on a point of order?
In places like Dansoman, Sakaman --
Hon Member, order!
Mr Speaker, the lady is misleading this House. [Interruption.] My Hon Colleague is misleading --
The Hon Member is --
Mr Speaker, she is misleading the House.
Hon Member, you may continue.
And she is out of order by telling us that but for the past Administration, under the leadership of Hon Okoe Vanderpuje, Accra was actually suffering from floods. Mr Speaker, what happened at Kwame Nkrumah Circle - [Interruption.] She said it. I have been a Minister for Works and Housing in the country and I know what is going on. So, she should not say that he did it. He did not do it. It is not true.
Hon Member, you would have the chance to contribute.
Mr Speaker, all right. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, what I said was that the previous Administration did well in tackling some of the problem with the drainage system in Accra, and Hon Okoe Vanderpuje is a witness because he also worked assiduously to tackle some of such problems in the city.
Hon Member, please continue and conclude.
Mr Speaker, I was in charge of search and rescue operations before I became a Member of Parliament. In places like Sakaman, Dansoman, Awoshie, Ashaiman, Nima and even the Hon Member's constituency, I did search and rescue operations there. Now, the situation is not the same. This is what I am talking about. Something has been done about it.
Hon Member, thank you for your contribution.
I would implore the Hon Minister for Zongo and Inner City Development to take up this matter --
Hon Member, you have exhausted your time. Is there any other contribution?
I thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Hon Member who made the Statement and to associate myself with the issues that she has brought to bear. I am particularly interested in the aspect of proper sanitation management and proper waste management as a contributing factor to the floods that we experience in this country. Mr Speaker, last week Saturday, we were supposed to observe the National Sanitation Day. Indeed, in most parts of the country, there was an appreciable amount of work that was done to clean drains. These drains, as the Hon Member who made the Statement referred to, are causes of some of the flood experiences that are happening. But I believe there are issues that we need to look at critically as far as waste management and sanitation management is concerned. It is probably about time that as a House, we reconsider the issue of making the National Sanitation Day backed by some legislation. We need to ask ourselves, do we have the resources to execute proper and regular sanitation management? Are our citizens interested in voluntary participation in cleaning, or in the National Sanitation Day, knowing that most of them are paying property rates and are paying tolls and expect the organisation that is receiving these funds to be doing these cleaning up? Mr Speaker, my experience in Lagos is interesting. On National Sanitation Day, from about 6.00 am to 11.00 am, there is no commercial activity and there are no movement of commercial vehicles. Indeed, even most churches do not perform weddings during the mornings of the National Sanitation Day. I believe that we, as a House, should reconsider the impact of giving the National sanitation day some legislative backing in order to help address the floods that we are experiencing.
Thank you very much. Dr Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije -- rose
Hon Okoe Vanderpuije, you would read your full Statement later, and you would have your day.
Mr Speaker, I would want to comment in support of the Statement ably made by Hon Dr Zanetor Agyeman- Rawlings. Mr Speaker, we have all come to agree that the main source of this problem is indiscipline on the part of citizens. We would be quick to always point fingers at the enforcement authorities at the various District Assemblies for failing in their duties to ensure that development laws are enforced. Mr Speaker, the other side is that, we always find that developers would want to be smart. You would be surprised that enforcement authorities would go round to developing areas on a Friday, by Monday, a lot of developments have gone on, structures would spring up so fast because they know that nobody would be around on a Saturday, Sunday and on a holiday to enforce anything. So, we really need to intensify public education and start right from the pre- school basic levels to imbibe in our young ones the spirit to love the environment and to behave in such a way that all these problems would be tackled. Mr Speaker, the citizens are taking politicians to ransom, especially getting to election years. You would realise that the political will to enforce some of our laws would not be there. This is because we know they would punish the politicians for embarking on demolishing and other things. If we politicians do not stand together, all these problems would persist and they would turn round to blame us for not doing the right thing. So, let us depoliticise some of these issues with regard to demolishing and other things and confront the issues squarely. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much. Any contribution from Leadership, at this stage?
Mr Speaker, I thought you said you were going to grant space to the former Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing to make a contribution on this, and also the former Mayor of Accra --
So, would leaders prefer to come in later? Hon Majority Leader, I thought I had some indications from you regarding two from each side of the House. This has been exhausted.
Thank you, Mr Speaker --
No! Hon Member, you are not called. The two from each side of the House recommendation by the Hon Majority Leader has been exhausted in this connection, unless of course Leadership may now want to speak on the matter.
Mr Speaker, I would like to speak, but considering the number of Statements you have admitted, if the former Mayor --
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, we have passed that stage, so you may make a contribution or I would continue. The recommendation came from Leadership themselves, and I would not change things mid-stream like that, please. The first Statement is referred to the Committee on Defence and Interior and the second one also to the Committee on Environment, Science and Technology. I have another Statement from Hon Annoh- Dompreh, on matters relating to traditional medicine. Enforcement of laws zto regulate the practice of traditional medicine
Mr Speaker, traditional herbal medicine is an ancient medical system that has provided the world's population with effective and affordable medicines over time. There is still high patronage of traditional medicines for varied reasons and it is important we take a critical look at its advancement to the benefit of the Ghanaian people. The potential of traditional medicines cannot be underestimated and I am particularly happy successive Govern- ments have recognised this. Mr Speaker, in Ghana, efforts to promote traditional medicine practice have been transitional, starting with the creation of the Ghana Psychic and Traditional Healers Association in 1961 by Dr Kwame Nkrumah followed by the establishment of Danfa Health Centre which aimed at training traditional birth attendants in 1964 with assistance from the United States Agency for Development (USAID). In 1975, the Center for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine (CSRPM) now Center for Research into Plant Medicine was established at Mampong- Akuapem in the Eastern Region of Ghana to conduct and promote research for the improvement of phytomedicines or plant medicines. Positive events have consistently occurred all geared towards ensuring delivery of excellent traditional medical care from then through to 2000 when the Traditional Medicine Practice Act 575, was promulgated and became fully operational when the Traditional Medicine Practice Council (TMPC) was set up in 2010. Mr Speaker, having come this far, even to the level of integrating and synchronising the clinical herbal medicine practice into the main health care delivery system in Ghana since 2012, it is important that we ensure full enforcement and strict compliance of laws regulating traditional herbal medicine practice. Mr Speaker, to the best of my knowledge, the enforcement, especially, of the provisions of the laws regulating the practice of traditional medicine is not satisfactory. There are more to do. Respectfully Mr Speaker, I am simply unable to fathom or come to terms with why there always seems to be some kind of inertia when it comes to implementing some of these very important policies. I think we can do better. Sections 9 and 17 of the Act mentioned above deal with registration and licensing respectively. Possession of those two documentations qualifies a person to practise and operate under law. However, many of the situations we find today clearly contradict the dictates of the Act. How many of our traditional medical healthcare providers have obtained such certificates to allow them operate in full swing under law? A number of people practise traditional medicine and deliver health care without any such approval from the Traditional Medicine Practice Council. Mr Speaker, a quick reference to the Act also provides for training and support in traditional medicine practice. This comes under section 2 of the Act and it specifies the objectives and functions of the Council as far as the practice of traditional medicine is concerned. Again, collaboration with the appropriate agencies for large scale cultivation of medicinal plants and for the preservation of bio-diversity is key according to Act 575. What have we done to ensure implementation of some of these provisions? Mr Speaker, ensuring compliance of the principles and tenet of the code of ethics of Traditional medicine practitioners is a very important thing to consider because that will in no doubt, ensure discipline, promote professionalism and improve the quality of their service and protect the lives of the individual users. Our laws must work and we must ensure that respectfully. Mr Speaker, health is wealth and I expect that we take keen interest in this and improve the system as required by law. To conclude, 1 strongly suggest and advocate also that cost of services of traditional herbal medicine practitioners be absorbed or covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) as most patients who patronise their services are NHIS card bearers and are often unable to afford payment. As Government seeks to strengthen the (NHIS), this call is well placed and timely. It is unfortunate that these service providers in the health delivery sector are left out. Once there exists an Act, I believe it is enough basis to call for its inclusion in the NHIS and hence, l strongly advocate for immediate plans to put into action to ensure that that is respected. Mr Speaker, I fully appreciate the difficulty, because doctors would have to prescribe before one can benefit from the health insurance, I, however, believe that the practice of traditional medicine poses a huge potential danger, and it is time we
began to initiate and start discussions on how we can include this in the Health Insurance Scheme. Mr Speaker, with these words, I thank you for your kindness.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Statement ably made by Hon Annoh- Dompreh on the issue of regulating the practice of traditional medicine in our country. Mr Speaker, we cannot underestimate the role played by our traditional medical practitioners. If we stretch their role, we could include traditional birth attendants, bonesetters and many more. Mr Speaker, indeed, looking at the health seeking behaviour of our rural dwellers, one would realise that most of them resort to traditional medicine as a first point of call. This is because their services are accessible, affordable and also have some counselling services provided therein. Mr Speaker, indeed, in the 1990s, when HIV and AIDS became a very big issue in this country, without orthodox medicine, it was really traditional medicine that came to our rescue until the antiretroviral drugs came on the market. Mr Speaker, having enumerated the numerous roles that they play and continue to play, we have also observed that some of them, in fact the bad nuts among them, practice below standards or without any standards. Mr Speaker, we have heard of people boast and tell us that one medicine could cure about twenty ailments. So, the said medicine could cure kookoo, infertility and so many diseases, which shows that the practice is not up to standard and not well regulated. Mr Speaker, I join the Hon Member by calling on the regulatory agencies to ensure that we sanitise the situation or the scene, and weed out the bad nuts -- those who make excessive profit at the expense of our people, especially the poor and the vulnerable. Mr Speaker, this could only be done, when we promulgate and ensure that Act 575 is really implemented. Once this is done, we could rely on their services even for referral issues. They could refer many of the people who go to them to the orthodox medical centres, if we have proper arrangement and regulation of their services. Mr Speaker, they could also provide medicines, which are really good. Some of them really do a very good job in our rural communities. So, I would want to support the Statement by saying that we regulate the activities of the traditional medicine providers and also the practitioners in general and, if possible, look at the way forward, which may include improving their services and also putting them on the National Health Insurance Scheme. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Statement made by the Hon Member. Thank you very much.
Hon Member, thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr Speaker for this opportunity you have given me to contribute to the Statement the Hon Member made as regards the operation and the handling of herbs. Mr Speaker, I talk on the bases that I am a health practitioner. We really need to make it very practical by the measures we would take to be able to streamline the operations of these herbalists. Mr Speaker, we accept the fact that the herbalists are very helpful. Some of these medicines that we use today -- the English medicines -- are derived from herbs; but when we look at it, it is very clear that with the way they prepare the herbs, most of them do not follow hygienic methods. Mr Speaker, secondly, they do not know the chemical preparation, and even the preservation is a problem. Sometimes, they feel that when the herbs have maggots, then that is when the herb is very effective; but these ones cause a lot of problems to our bodies. Mr Speaker, like the other Hon Member who contributed said, we should try our best and connect them to the regulatory bodies, so that they would be able to supervise them very well. If we cannot weed them out, then we should see how we could support them to be able to operate in a very decent manner. Mr Speaker, I would also propose that we deal with the District Assemblies or the Municipal Assemblies, because I observed that in my place, they have periods that they go to renew their licences for operation. Before the licences are renewed, I believe that they should be able to produce, perhaps, some documents on in-service training so that it would show that they had been given some special knowledge to be able to go about their operations. Otherwise, they are doing a good thing, but when we look at it, most of them actually create and worsen health conditions. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would want to thank you for the opportunity, and we are grateful because it is something that could enhance the health status of our people.
Thank you very much, Hon Member.
Hon Member I do not see clearly, whether you are on the Majority or the Minority side. [Interruption.] --
My position confuses the Rt. Hon Speaker, probably because --
Hon Member, continue. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, the issue of traditional medicine is one that we could not run away from in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially in our country. My great grandfather used to cure madmen, as a traditional medicine practitioner, using -- [Interruption.]
Hon Member, Order!
Mr Speaker, he used to cure madmen, using purely herbal material, and that is why as his great grandson, I appear to have the tenacity to cure some level of madness in the society.
Hon Member, you are eating into your time.
All right, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, however, when we look at the current terrain in the country, even among traditional medicine practitioners, there are a number of splinter groups which makes it difficult for us to monitor the quality of products that are put out on the market. Mr Speaker, we have the Ghana National Association of Traditional Healers, the Ghana Psychic and Traditional Hea- lers Association, the Plant Medicine Association, and several other associations, which are all splinter groups. The Ministry, as stated, tried to form the Ghana Federation of Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association. However, many of these splinter groups have not brought themselves under the scope and control of this recognised group by the Ministry of Health. Mr Speaker, this has led to an instance where we have many of these groups putting out products which have not been tested, both by our Food and Drugs Authority and the Ghana Standards Authority on the market. Mr Speaker, this subjects the citizens of this country to poor or low quality products, or products that have not necessarily been tested to meet the demands of the needs that they are supposed to serve. Mr Speaker, I would want to urge that you use your good Office for the Committee on Health to work closely with the Ministry of Health in streamlining the operations of these traditional medicine practitioners so that we can ensure that in rural communities in Ghana, where the first point of call for many illnesses is the traditional medicine practitioners, we can ensure the right quality and standards. Again, another new phenomenon we see is that many traditional medicine practitioners have now added the use of herbs and traditional roots to spiritual or religious affiliation. So many of our traditional medicine practitioners now have also become healing homes. It becomes a situation where we find ourselves wanting to legislate what appears to be religious organisations. Again, we need to define the fine line between a religious organisation and a traditional medicine practitioner. Until we are able to create the dichotomy between these two distinct practices, we would continue to have instances where some of these traditional medicine practitioners have taken the citizens of this country for granted. That said, Mr Speaker, I must commend or make the admission that some traditional medicine practitioners are doing a fantastic job, and also augment the work of orthodox medicine. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, thank you once again for the opportunity to speak to the issue of herbal medicine and its regulation. Mr Speaker, I once subscribed to what other Hon Members have said, especially what the Hon Member for Evalue Jaomoro Gwira -- Ghana has done well when it comes to the integration of herbal medicine into our health delivery system. As I speak to you, Mr Speaker, we have a directorate in the Ministry of Health. We have a process of certification. We have a process through which herbal medicines are registered and regulated. Mr Speaker, like we have with orthodox medicine, it is just that as human beings, we would always want to cut corners. Mr Speaker, we have quack doctors and fake orthodox medicine in the system. Therefore, we cannot say because we have these, we should throw away herbal medicine. Mr Speaker, as I speak to you, personally, for the past 28 years, I have never had malaria. I can sleep in a mosquito infested area. It is not magic; it is herbal medicine. Mr Speaker, the issue about the dichotomy between herbal medicine and traditional herbal practice is what we have to look at. For some of us, we believe the orthodox system cannot regulate the traditional system because the concept of disease is different. Until the white man landed here, we did not know what malaria, yellow fever and hypertension were. Traditional medicine treats the general well-being of a person. If one has headache, it could be as a result of malaria, a liver disease or any other condition; but it will manifest in headache. So, when a traditional practitioner is treating headache and he tells us he is treating malaria and others, he should not be faulted because that is not the concept; the concept is treating, the general well- being of the person. Therefore, sometimes I am most surprised that people criticise herbal medicine because it is said to treat a lot of diseases. Mr Speaker, even science has proven that one drug can treat a lot. That is why there are side effects. The side effect of a drug can be good under a certain condition. Therefore, we should not be quick to dismiss when they come out to tell us that a medicine can treat A, B, C, D; we need to find out. Mr Speaker, most of the time, it is true. What we need to do is to understand, differentiate and then do reclassification of traditional herbal medicine practice. Let us take traditional herbal medicine practice completely away from the psychic and the other things. If we do that, we would be able to zero into some of the good things that we have in herbal medicine. For instance, Mr Speaker, there are very important drugs that have been discovered as a result of the use of plant medicine. There has been Vincristin and Vinblastin blasting, which are used in treating cancer; even Aspirin from the willow tree. It is as a result of careful study and use of herbal medicine that we have these medicines. We can talk about the Quinines -- Chloroquine and all of them. Mr Speaker, we have the opportunity to also come out with more of these if, as I said, we take our time. We should not discourage them, but encourage them. We should set up the systems just to allow them to develop, so we can make use of the worth of knowledge that is in traditional medicine. Mr Speaker, with these, I thank you for the opportunity.
Any contributions from the Leadership at this stage?
Mr Speaker. I rise to speak to the Statement on the floor. Mr Speaker, all of us here would attest to the fact that traditional medicine was a very important way of treating our diseases before the advent of the orthodox medicine. Mr Speaker, but the main topic or the reason for the Statement is about the inclusion of the traditional medicine on the National Health Insurance Scheme. If that is the understanding, then I have a few issues to talk about. First of all, the practice is such that it is difficult to manage and control and it is difficult to bring all of them under one body. For that matter, the administration of that proposal today, is something that must be considered. For instance, what should be paid for if somebody visits a traditional medicine practitioner? Is it the services that he is going to be provided by the practitioner or the drugs that would be administered on that patient? So, it must be well regulated and monitored in order to ensure that -- if we bring the traditional medicine under the National Health Insurance Scheme, then those factors must be looked at appropriately. This is because, currently, if one visits a hospital, the services provided by the Doctor as well as the drugs that are prescribed are charged and paid for by the National Health Insurance Scheme. So, if you are bringing the traditional medicine under the National Health Insurance, then we should look at whether the practitioners are providing services and also, apart from the drugs that they give, consultation is something that should come under the National Health Insurance Scheme. Mr Speaker, it is very important that before one should consider adding this to the National Health Insurance Scheme, proper administrative measures must be put in place to ensure that it is well accounted for before we consider bringing them under the National Health Insurance Scheme. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Majority Leadership?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I yield to Hon Samuel Atta Akyea.
Leadership cannot be yielding to others, if they would not contribute. The Hon Minister for Works and Housing is in the House -- [Interruption.] Hon Minister, you may contribute.
I am grateful to you, Mr Speaker.
This is a very important Statement coming from Hon Annoh-Dompreh; I am impressed with the Statement because it is evidence-based and it dwelt extensively on the law, although I am reliably informed he has not been called to the Bar and he is trying to complete his legal education. Mr Speaker, I am of the humble view that the main problem that challenges traditional medicine is the contempt that orthodox medicine has for this area of practice. This is because at the end of the day, we would not find orthodox medicine saying that there is some premium that we should place on traditional medicine. It is as if it is another dimension of no significance. Insofar as we have our traditional practitioners, who also went to Medical School and those who are Pharmacists, not giving any respect to what can come traditionally to probably augment scientific medicine, I do not see how we can have any breakthrough with traditional medicine. This is because we are yet to find out that if we should improve traditional medicine, it is going to cut down on importation of all manner of drugs and thereby even help our economy. This is because here we are with this colonial mindset that anything which is coming from the West is good; but via some nations, that I would not like to mention, all manner of medicines have come into the realm, which do not measure up to the test of proper medicine, that should be administered to people. Our whole economy and the situations we find ourselves in, is that several medicines from the West and other places are fake; but if it has been prescribed by a doctor, somebody who has learned orthodox medicine, then it should pass. So, this is a whole conceptual confusion that we should clear. There is some value that we should place on traditional medicine. Until we clear this confusion, we would not be able to go very far. Another problem that confronts traditional medicine is sometimes the fetish dimension of what the practitioners are engaged in. Is it a spirit that would heal a man, or it is the efficacy of the herbs that would heal a man? Mr Speaker, that is a very serious matter. Therefore, if somebody is not too well and another man says we should bury a cat and after that he would have to drink some concoctions, the question that would be posed philosophically is that, is it the burying of the cat to appease some powers that we cannot see, which would bring about the healing, or is it the drinking of the herbs? These are matters of challenge. Some people will never approach traditional medicine in so far as there is some fetish and esoteric dimensions that only the initiated can appreciate. This is because sometimes people believe that if we invoke powers before they do medicine for somebody, he or she is an idol worshipper and the rest of them. So, we should look at it and separate the two. I also hold the view that we would not go far with the promotion of traditional medicine if we do not deal with the quack practitioners. We have the laws, as he rightly quoted, but if we do not enforce the law that some people are dying because of illegal practices, we can never even quantify the harm that these quack traditional medicine practitioners are causing others; yet, we say we have the laws. If we do not enforce the law, it will not help society at all. Lastly, I am very concerned about the Food and Drugs Authority and how they should also come to the point of certifying that some drugs from our traditional medicine practitioners are extremely good. This is because the view of these orthodox medicine practitioners is that there is no scientific basis to answer the efficacy of the drug, which is coming from the plant. They even talk about overdose and multiplication of several chemicals, which might eventually be harmful to the individual. If we cannot test the scientific basis of a particular drug, but the Food and Drugs Board is able to go into scientific analysis and certify that this concoction from a traditional medicine practitioner is good and efficacious, that would give a lot of people hope that they are not drinking the wrong things. We have a situation of a multi-faceted nature, and we should confront it. I do not have all the facts, but, if we have enough traditional medicine in this country to address some challenges that orthodox medicine practitioners can never address, it would save us a lot of foreign exchange, promote jobs, and we would be richer for it. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this moment.
Thank you very much, Hon Members, for this issue which goes to the root of our health as a nation. It is referred to the Committee on Health for consideration and report. Hon Members should make recommendations to sanitise the system and streamline traditional medicine and its practice. It is recommended that the Hon Member who made the Statement should assist the Committee in every possible manner. We need to make traditional medicine scientific and separate it from spiritual mysticism. The next Statement stands in the name of Hon Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije, on political lessons from Ghana at 60 and the way forward for our country. In the process, the Hon Second Deputy Speaker will assume the Chair. Hon Member, you may start.
MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER
Yes, Hon Member? Political Lessons from Ghana at 60 and the Way Forward
Mr Speaker, as Ghana celebrates its sixtieth (60th) independence anniversary this year, every citizen is enjoined under article 41 of the 1992 Constitution to perform a duty or an obligation to promote the prestige and good name of Ghana, foster national unity, uphold and defend the Constitution and many others. It is in the light of this civic burden that I put forth this Statement for consideration by this Honourable House; the nature of the Ghanaian political dispensation since the promulgation of the 1992 Constitution. A look at the past, the current situation on the governance system in Ghana, and the way forward shall be the main headings for the Statement. Areas such as how Government in Ghana is formed, the constitutional term of office
guaranteed for a President, appointments, the costs of running elections to defend incumbency, transitional challenges and recommendations for the future shall be discussed in this Statement. The purpose is to reflect on the progress, contributions and challenges made in the past years and suggest some proposals to strengthen our democracy and deepen governance in Ghana. Mr Speaker, since independence, Ghana has been governed by five Constitutions, namely the 1957, 1960, 1969, 1979 and the current 1992 Constitution. The political governance under 1957 and the 1960 Constitution granted so much executive powers to the President. The 1969 and 1979 Constitution followed a similar fashion. The experiences under these past Constitutions impliedly promoted incumbency, ‘winner takes all', and short term of office for an elected Government. Mr Speaker, the 1992 Constitution provides under article 1(1) that “The Sovereignty of Ghana resides in the people of Ghana in whose name and for whose welfare the powers of government are to be exercised in the manner and within the limits laid down in this Constitution. “ This means, it is a trite law in Ghana that the fundamental principle regarding all powers of Government must spring from the sovereign will of the people. To wit, it is provided under article 55(1) that the right to form political parties is guaranteed. It is also equally provided that every citizen of Ghana of voting age has the right to join a political party and participate actively in its activities. Mr Speaker, another challenge to the current political dispensation is the constitutional term of office of the President. Article 66 (1) reads and I beg to quote: “A person elected as President shall, subject to clause (3) of this article, hold office for a term of four years beginning from the date on which he is sworn in as President.”
Initially, you said “shall submit to clause (3)”. Now, you have stated “shall, subject”. It is not the person who is subjecting; it is “subject to clause (3) of this article”.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Article 66(2) says, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “(2) A person shall not be elected to hold office as President of Ghana for more than two terms.” The effects of the above provisions are that, every elected, Government in Ghana has four years in which to serve and achieve all manifesto promises made, to the electorate. Within this four year term, activities such as transition from the outgoing Government to the new Government elect under the Presidential (Transition) Act, 2012 (Act 843), appointments of Ministers of State under article 78, appointments of Deputy Ministers under article 79, appointments of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives under article 243(1), budgeting and many others take place. In effect, the first year of the four years is occupied with preliminary activities ushering the Government into active governance. Mr Speaker, the second year of administration of every Government is the active period within the Government's term of office. The third year is characterized by gathering financial resources and marshalling political strategies towards general elections. This statement calls such activities as ‘the defence of incumbency'. The fourth year is an electioneering period. The strategies in the third year are implemented in the fourth year. The amount of resources, time and money that goes into the defence of incumbency is worth re-stating. Another challenge, Mr Speaker, to the governance system transitional periods marred with serious discrepancies such as seizure of some public offices, burning of State properties, disengagement of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives from office until new ones are appointed. This situation is worrying. Regarding the disengagement of the District Chief Executives, it is admitted that even though the Constitution warrants their appointment and removal by the President under article 243(3), (b), it is submitted that considering the structures in place under the local government system, the MMDAs become non-functional in the absence of these Chief Executives. Thus, more often than not some regime issues letters of removal of District Chief Executives to go home right after change of Government. This action of the Executive arm of government leaves a vacuum in the various MMDAs in their day-to-day administration. The problem encountered by the various MMDAs just to make mention is the lack of effective supervision of day-to-day administration of the various Districts. Mr Speaker, in the light of these challenges, it is proposed for the consideration of this House the following: There is the need to vote for a constitutional amendment to increase the tenure of office of the President to ‘a six year one term of office.' That is, a critical conside- ration must be given to the article 66(1) and (2), which seeks to limit the term of office of government in Ghana to a term of four years unless re-elected for a second term. The term of four years has its obvious consequences. It is a well-known fact that, since the promulgation of the 1992 Constitution, anytime a President is elected, time and resources are spent to defend a one-term four years incumbency. This comes with its associated financial burden on the State. Going by this precedent, it is submitted that the term of office as it exists under the current Constitution is woefully insufficient for any Government to seriously consider improving the economy. Organising elections in every four years is a financial pest and a drain on the limited State resources. In conclusion, Mr Speaker, even though Ghana is currently practising a multi-party system, which allows the electorates to vote for their preferred President, the tenure of office of the President is insufficient for effective planning and maximum development of the
country under a Presidency. To quote Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, “Ghana ‘face neither East nor West: we face forward .... and that, the best way of learning to be an independent sovereign state is to be an independent sovereign state.” This Statement proposes, for the consideration of this House; a six-year- one term of Presidency without any opportunity for reflection. This will in the long run promote greater development, save the nation from huge financial burdens in organising elections and promote proper accountability to the electorates. In addition Mr Speaker, it is submitted that, this House must also consider the transitional provisions of the law as it currently exists, with the view to ensuring that effective transitional steps are put in place to allow effective governance without any lapses and issues of Presidential benefits are well laid out. Mr. Speaker, in a one-term presidential situation, transitional matters could be resolved from six-months prior to the end of the Presidential term of office. Mr Speaker, it is my personal belief and that of many other Ghanaians that this Statement will provide the basis for the necessary constitutional reforms needed to improve our country's political advancement, especially in the areas of national development and transitional matters. I thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity.
Hon Members, this Statement is likely to take us out of the ambit of Statements, under
Mr Speaker, even though the Statement was admitted by the Rt Hon Speaker, your view on the Statement is that it contains subjects that would lead to debates. On that note, I would support your position that we go by Leadership looking at how we could come by a Motion, so that it would be debated. This is because, if you allow contributions, it can go into a debate and then, instead of a Statement that can probably take, a few minutes for contribution, it could take more time. Mr Speaker, so, if my Hon Colleague opposite would agree, we would go by your suggestion.
Available Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, our Standing Orders indicate that Statements are not supposed to illicit debates. And from the perspective of the Hon Member who made the Statement, you have had it right, that some aspects that he raised would definitely illicit debates. Based on that and your guidance, I believe that we should follow your guidance and give it another time and allow the Statements to be made.
I can see the Hon Member for Effutu itching to contribute — as part of Leadership, I hope — [Laughter.]
Let me recognise the Hon Member for North Tongu.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful. Mr Speaker, not to appear to be departing from the thought of Leadership and your call-ship but I beg to support Hon Afenyo-Markin's submission that perhaps, this Statement was admitted by Mr Speaker in view of what the nation is going through right now -- our 60 th Anniversary celebrations and the lessons we have to learn because that is what the Hon Member who made the Statement did. He situated this Statement within that context. Also, the fact that we have the opportunity of taking a second look at our Constitution -- it is a constitutional review process that has started. So, I thought that just to enrich the debate within the context of the Ghana @ 60 Celebrations, we can all benefit from your guidance so that we do not stray too much and generate very heated debate. I think that it is an interesting matter that has been raised and we are all really tempted to proffer our opinions. So we plead that Mr Speaker guides us within a certain narrow path within the Ghana @ 60 context if it pleases you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Members, Standing Order 72 is known to all of you. For the benefit of the public, I would just want to read it and you would see the difficulty of the Speaker in managing the House when it comes to such an issue. Standing Order 72 says: “By the indulgence of the House and leave of Mr Speaker, a Member may, at the time appointed for statements under Order 53 (Order of Business) explain a matter of personal nature or make a statement on a matter of urgent public importance. Any statement other than a personal statement may be commented upon by other
Members for a limited duration of time not exceeding one hour. The terms of any such proposed statement shall first be submitted to Mr Speaker.” That has been done; Mr Speaker has admitted it, correctly, I must say. Maybe, the intention was to raise the issue for us as a House to consider the next stage and that is why I am drawing your attention that in making your comments, do not look at debating it if you think that it is such an important issue for the nation to be guided. This is because as of now, you are only left with commenting. If it was left with only the lessons, one could comment on that. But when you talk about the way forward, then you have a challenge there. There is reference to constitutional provisions and his understanding, interpretation and application of the constitutional provisions are open to debate. That is why I am drawing your attention. If it is the case that you would be guided by this provision and you would only be limited to comment on the Statement, I am very open to the House and we can proceed from that guidance. I can see Hon Maj. Oduro (retd.) -- you have been on your feet for some time. Is the Speaker out of order? Maj. Oduro (retd): For a very long time, Mr Speaker.
Is the Speaker out of order?
You may proceed. Maj. Derek Oduro (retd): Mr Speaker, I think the sense of the House through the Leadership is now well known. I think that it is not at all times that statements are allowed to be commented upon. One can present a statement and the Speaker may or may not allow any comment. Mr Speaker, you have already mentioned that the Statement contained some controversial issues. The Leadership have come out with their own opinion about it and I also think that it is not a motion that we would have to debate; a statement is not supposed to attract any debate. Therefore, it is for the consideration of the House now that it has been presented. We may avoid commenting on it so that other issues may not come up. Mr Speaker, you cannot control everybody. Somebody would mention a thing, you ask him to withdraw but he has already mentioned it. Therefore, I would strongly suggest that we refuse to comment on this Statement so that it would not degenerate into any debate. Thank you.
Hon Members, I seek to gather the sense of the House that you would want to comment on the Statement and I think we would proceed along that line.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, thank you for allowing me to comment on the Statement ably made by the Hon Member for --
Sorry, you would want to start commenting on it?
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Sorry, I would then have to come from the other side as the Statement was made from your side. So, just a minute. Hon Afenyo-Markin?
On a point of order: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Hon Afenyo-Markin would bear with me. Mr Speaker, I was rationalising the matter when my Hon Colleague was making his original contribution as to whether the Statement should be debated upon at all. Mr Speaker, I have been thinking and I wonder if we are doing the right thing in debating it. You know the rules better than I do. I do know that we have the question of anticipation of a matter which subsequently might come to this floor. This debate somehow will go to the root of the Constitutional Review Commission issue that is currently pending. Mr Speaker would recall that under some constitutional instruments, a Committee has been set up; they have reviewed the Constitution including these matters. I believe in the end there would be a referendum. There are matters pending on the question of the review of this Constitution. [Interruption.] These are exactly the matters that -- my Hon Colleague, O. B. Amoah is asking whether I am sure of this submission. I am sure to the extent that I remember the facts. [Interruption.] He is harassing me here and I would not allow him to do that. Mr Speaker, this is the classic debate that we would have in this House if the matter eventually ended up here. Why are we anticipating same by now deliberating on it because of the Statement that was made by our Hon Colleague from Ablekuma South? Mr Speaker, your initial inclination would have been right. You were inclined to suppress any debate on this matter, I believed, considering your reflection on the matters that I am just discussing. So, I do not know. Can we not leave the Statement as it is and then when it comes here, if it ever does when the Constitutional Review Commission matter lands on the floor of the House, then we can take up these matters? This is because they are very substantial, interesting and considerably critical. I do not know whether it is a matter that we can deal with effectively within one hour. I believe, Mr Speaker, I should bring this concern to your attention and see whether it does really help you reflect on the debate. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thank you, Hon K. T. Hammond. It is because of this very good reason that I decided to caution the House because this is a Statement admitted by the Rt. Hon Speaker which meant that it meets the eligibility criteria for admission. So, the Rt. Hon Speaker has admitted it. In going through the Statement, I could see some dangers and that is why I drew your attention but the House is ready and willing to comment on the Statement. So, it is my duty to guide the House to make sure that you are only limited to commenting on the Statement and not debating it. The Statement was couched in a general manner but the Hon Member who made the Statement then went forward to state some specific provisions and issues. So, I will guide you and if you go into an area of debate, I will definitely draw your attention. So far, the Hon Member has made comments and he has not raised any debatable issues. So, I will give him two more minutes to conclude.
Hon Member, are you referring to, ‘impartial' or ‘neutral'?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for allowing me to associate myself with the Statement ably made by my Hon Colleague, the Member of Parliament for Ablekuma South and the former Mayor of Accra, Dr Okoe Vanderpuije. Mr Speaker, we have just celebrated our 60th Anniversary as an independent State. The celebration in itself is commendable. I am coming from a point of view that Ghana was an artificial creation put together by the British for their imperial interest and with the fact that we have held together as a unitary State, we have overcome challenges along the way and have endured and not disintegrated like other States --
Hon Member, was Ghana actually put together by the British?
Mr Speaker, yes. Ghana like all states in Africa were artificial creations by the Berlin Conference which petitioned Africa --
You have to limit yourself to commenting. This issue you are raising is debatable because you know the history -- how we came
together; Gold Coast, Northern Territories, Ashanti, Trans Volta Togoland and how we came together to form Ghana. Can one say that by this process, it was the British that created Ghana or the Berlin Conference? This is because the Berlin Conference was in the year 1884.
Mr Speaker, I am guided that would not stray into matters that would generate debates. I strongly hold the view that Ghana has always been an artificial creation but not to debate the Speaker on this matter. Mr Speaker, the social cohesiveness of this country is commendable. The democratic experiment that we embarked upon, upon assuming our nationhood -- the status as an independent country has gone through many trials. If you look at the 1959 Constitution which was described as dead at birth, if one looks at the 1954, 1957 and subsequently, the 1960 Constitutions all responded to situations which warranted that our aspirations as a people were met. Indeed, in the 1960 Constitution, the President of the Republic of Ghana was virtually made a life President. If one looks at the 1969 Constitution, we decided as a people that we have had enough of the Presidential system of Government and that we were going to try the Westminster type of Government. So, we promulgated the 1969 Constitution to meet our aspirations as a people. Mr Speaker, when the experiment failed by a coup d'état, we tried the 1979 Constitution and in it, we decided that it was not workable to fuse Parliamentary duties with the Executive duties and that we should separate the Arms of Government which allowed the Hon Members of Parliament to be Hon Ministers of State. So, we went strictly the Presidential system of Government, again responding to situations that developed in this country, a situation which clearly resulted in a stalemate in Parliament when the 1979 Constitution was put to test during the time of ex-President Hilla Limann which clearly led to his Budget not being approved. Mr Speaker, learning from that experience, we went to the 1992 Constitution and said that probably, in order not to have that situation occurring again in Ghana, let us fuse the two systems whereby a majority of Hon Members of Parliament become Hon Ministers of State so that the President's Budget would not be defeated in Parliament and cause an embarrassment to the State. So, we would fuse the systems. The 1992 Constitution has travelled a long way and that is why the former President of the Republic of Ghana -- His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor when he was leaving office, had cause to believe that the four year term for the President needed a re-look, and that did not offer the President the needed time and space to deliver not only on his manifesto promise but also to serve the people in a capacity that would make his time in office felt by the people of this country. In his view, he suggested we go five years for the President. So, the idea that Hon Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije has eloquently canvassed in this House, were sown probably by His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor when he delivered his last State of the Nation Address. The Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, is a living document. Being a living document, it must respond to situations of transitions which take more than one year and where Hon Ministers of State and Municipal Chief Executives (MCEs) and other political appointees are appointed throughout the first term of the President leaving him no time to deliver on the manifesto promises and the pledges that he has made to the people of Ghana. Mr Speaker, I believe that the only snag that we face as a Parliament is the fact that article 66 that he relied on, is part of the articles that deal with the Executive authority of State and that article itself is an entrenched article. So, clearly, it does not lie within the remit of Parliament alone to suggest an amendment to that particular provision of the Constitution. Mr Speaker, this is because that article requires that an amendment process should involve the people of this country and so, I take it that his views have found space with the former President of the Republic of Ghana and with many other people who feel and rightly so, that the time that the Constitution gives to a sitting President, especially the four-year term, gives him or her no time to perform the sworn-in duties as a President.
Hon Member, just on a point of information, this is one of the issues that the Constitutional Reform Committee took up. It was an issue raised in the year 1999 by the late press secretary, Mr Vincent Asiseh which was debated by the public and then followed by His Excellency -- John Agyekum Kufuor and then Prof. Stephen Adei, formerly of Ghana Institute for Management and Public Adminis- tration (GIMPA). These are things that were debated even before the Constitutional Reforms were initiated. At the end of the day, if you go through the report of the Committee, Ghanaians have stated clearly that no, we should maintain the four-year term and that is one of the reasons I said that the issues raised here are debatable. Your comments, unless you -- ignite them and if you would want us to debate it, we could come by a motion and then we would properly debate these issues. So, I just sought the guidance of Leadership and the Leadership rightly supported my stand but since Hon Members insisted and was admitted by the Speaker, I decided to allow you to make comments but this one is going beyond that.
Mr Speaker, I am guided and I take a cue from you except to say that probably, in the remotest sense, we are re-igniting debate in an unconventional way in Parliament. Actually, it is to support the idea sown by many people whom you have mentioned and to say that really, time has come for us to re-think. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Well, I would allow two more; Hon Asamoa and then the Hon Member and that is all. There are two more Statements to be made today.
Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to comment on the matter so far. Mr Speaker, it warms my heart that you have such a clear history of these processes. This country is on the verge of great things and Parliament must find a way of owning the reform processes. Mr Speaker speaks about the Constitutional Review Committee, the processes of which were not grounded in this House which is the House for Legislating on behalf of this country.
Mr Speaker, constitutional reform is inevitable to the extent that the Rt Hon Speaker has stated that he wants to see more participation of private members in legislating for the benefit of the people who voted for them to be here. Mr Speaker, His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo's vision has two major plans which would require constitutional reforms, the first being his desire to see District Chief Executives (DCEs) elected and which I believe would complete the loop of democracy that we have. As it is, we have a lopsided democracy to the extent that an Hon Member of Parliament in a constituency could be elected but the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) who controls everything is not elected. The second plank that H.E the President is going to push forward, is the desire for new regions and that would also require extensive constitutional processes.
Hon Member, you may limit your contribution to comments. I have been gracious enough to allow the first one to go through, but this second one -- could you move into safer grounds? [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, yes. I would want to urge Leadership on both sides of the House to come by Motion so that this House could own the process and have a proper debate about constitutional reform. This is because the more involved this House is, the more likely it is that we would have a well- rounded Constitution better suited for our purposes. We should not leave it to Civil Society Organisations and committees outside the House to determine what we believe the people of this country who have sent us here to represent them deserve by way of law. Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I would want to congratulate the Hon Member who made the Statement -- my own Hon Friend, Dr Okoe, and associate myself with an aspect that spoke about the political implications of the transitional period and leave out the constitutional requirements and controversies. Mr Speaker, I would want to add --
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, thank you very much. For the purposes of the Hansard, I do not know if there is anybody here called Dr Okoe.
Mr Speaker, very well, My Hon Friend Dr Okoe Vanderpuije.
Are you referring to Hon Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije?
Mr Speaker, that is so.
Then say so because there are many Dr Okoe Vanderpuijes.
Mr Speaker, I mean, Hon Dr Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, I wish to add by way of comment that the requirement that articles 190 (1) and 191 places on public servants -- that is article 190 (1) describes the entities that constitute the Public Service and it says in article 191 that a public servant may not be discriminated against or victimized for doing his lawful duty as enshrined in this Constitution and the (b) says that, he may not be dismissed or removed from office or reduced in rank and so on. Mr Speaker, my observation is that the --
Hon Member, are you quoting the article or you are paraphrasing?
Mr Speaker, I am paraphrasing for purposes of --
Then please go back and paraphrase it properly.
Mr Speaker, then I beg to quote article 191 of the 1992 Constitution, which states that: “A member of the public services shall not be -- (a) victimized or discriminated against for having discharged his duties faithfully in accordance with this Constitution; or (b) dismissed or removed from office or reduced in rank or otherwise punished without just cause.” Mr Speaker, my submission is that, very often persons who work in the Public Services are ordered to proceed on leave in the event of change of government and no reasons are cited sometimes in the letters that direct them to proceed on leave and no reasons are given when they are dismissed from office. So, I would want to associate myself with the Hon Member who made the Statement. For instance the Head of the Ghana Health Service --
Hon Member, your submissions are from dubious legal validity. I am not sure that you are reading the judgement that you referred to properly, or you are maybe carried away by some phrases. This is because the Supreme Court did not say so in that case. Hon Member, you could continue.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Brother knows that the Transitional Act is subservient to the Constitution. We were in class together and so he knows. I am saying that the authority dismissing persons in the Public Service who are perceived -- because they do not give reasons. In any event that they would want to do so, they must give reasons, but they would not give the reasons and that is why the Hon Member who made the Statement is saying that having attained 60 years, these are some of the political observations and that we must guard against things like these.
Hon Member, you are aware that there are enough safeguards in the Constitution and our laws for people to protect their fundamental human rights. So, please, do not let us turn the Chamber of Parliament into a court of law. Make comments that are germane to the Statement, do not raise legal issues that would let us start to debate this whole Statement which is against our Standing Orders.
Hon K. T. Hammond, I thought that you would be guided by my intervention.
Mr Speaker, I am completely guided by it, except that there is a little matter that troubles me. Mr Speaker, you just made a statement which reflects with the legal acumen of the young man here and who I would be happy at any time if he took up my case. Mr Speaker, he was really developing his point and he was going to cite exactly what he thought the Supreme Court said; the provisions. But then you made comments about the dubious nature -- Mr Speaker, I was scared and I would suggest that this was a kind of demolition exercise on him. Mr Speaker, so, if you would allow him one second for him to point out, not to challenge you because I know where you
Hon K. T. Hammond, you are completely out of order. The Hon Member is capable of defending himself. He made it in a very generalised manner, but the Supreme Court was very specific and cautious in their pronouncement on these issues. That was why I was drawing his attention. He went beyond that. So, please, do not turn yourself into his counsel. He is capable of defending himself.
Mr Speaker, indeed, on the back of that, I was prepared to --
Hon Member, are you challenging the ruling of the Speaker? Hon Member, you might conclude?
Mr Speaker, if I might further refer you to article 190(1) of the 1992 Constitution, which reads as follows: “The Public Services of Ghana shall include -- (a) the Civil Service the Judicial Service the Audit Service the Education Service the Prisons Service the Parliamentary Service the Health Service the Statistical Service the National Fire Service …” Mr Speaker, on the first day of February, this year, the appointment of the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Appiah Denkyira was terminated and no reasons were canvassed for doing so.
Hon Member, you are completely out of order. Please, your last sentence.
Mr Speaker, may I conclude by saying that Ghana, having attained sixty years, we must observe the tenets of constitutionalism in the way we handle the affairs of State, so that the way constitutional breaches occur, without challenge, would be stopped. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to comment on this Statement.
I thank you very much. We shall now listen to Hon Cynthia Mamle Morrison who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Agona West. The Challenges in our Prisons
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to make this Statement on the floor. Mr Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of this noble House to a social issue that is of national importance. Mr Speaker, it is a well-known fact that, our present prisons and correctional reform structures are under-resourced and poorly managed. The general infras- tructure is not the best and lacks adequate space, leading to overcrowding. Our prisons are overburdened, and the increase in the number of prisoners is not matched by the available staff who also lack accommodation, and so most of them live outside the prisons barracks. Mr Speaker, all these and many other facts remind us of the undeniable fact that our prison systems require urgent reforms and rehabilitation. Mr Speaker, the problems of our overburdened prison facilities not only lead to a financial drain on our constrained resources, but also tend to breed inmates who become social deviants. “It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jail. A nation shall not be judged by how it treats it highest citizens but the lowest ones” -- Nelson Mandela Due to the overcrowding in our prisons, some of the inmates tend to pick up negative, socially unacceptable and culturally sensitive behaviours such as homosexuality, drug abuse, lesbianism, armed robbery and many others. Young adults confined in these prisons have no viable role models. Mr Speaker, I very often engage in discussions with some of these young prisoners who have almost served their full term and who are hired to do some clearing, painting and other services in my Montessori school in Agona Swedru in my Agona West constituency. Mr Speaker, it saddens, pains and indeed pierces my heart, as a mother, to know from the revelations, some of the gory things that happen in our prisons. Mr Speaker, this is a quote from Project Efiase in their 2015 - 2016 Annual Report to stakeholders:
Thank you very much, Hon Member. But Hon Member, let it not be said that this House views snatching of mobile phones as petty thievery. This is violent crime. So, that is not among the category of petty thievery. Stealing of cassava, plantain and the rest, yes, one could say it is petty, but snatching involves violence.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Member. Mr Speaker, just as we can find so many reasons to the issues that relate to the congestion at our prison centres, what I would like us to look at is the issue of the rate at which people who are out on remand are brought and their issues are dispensed with. Mr Speaker, many a time, we find that people are on remand and for several years, their cases are not recalled, and these are the issues that contribute to the congestion at the prisons. I would encourage that we fast track these issues so that people who are brought are easily dealt with and then justice is delivered. With these comments, I thank you once again for the opportunity.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I beg to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Member. Before I continue, the question that I ask is that, in this 21st century, what is prison? Is prison meant to punish people or to correct them? Mr Speaker, this is what we should be guided by in our opinion. Indeed, the facilities in the prisons as we speak are very poor. One of them is overcrowding, others are delays in the procedures of the judicial system; cases between the police stations, Judicial Police (JUPO) and the Attorney-General's Department. There are delays, and as a result we find many people on remand. Mr Speaker, between the Attorney- General's Department, the Ghana Police and the court system, there must be collaboration between these agencies to ensure that they fast track cases in order for people to know where they stand in matters of that nature. Mr Speaker, again, the question is, are prison officers being motivated enough? Do they have enough accommodation for them to discharge their duties professionally in the prisons? When you go to other jurisdictions, I am aware or I have been told that in certain jurisdictions labour or jobs are rather created in some of these prisons. They sew uniforms, they sew all manner of things. I believe, and I stand for correction, that we even import some of these things into this country. Mr Speaker, it would help when people are sentenced they do not go in there to be punished and learn other things that when they come out they become rather hardened than when they went to prison. Rather, we must encourage a situation where they can reflect based on the environment they find themselves in and also give them something to do so that they would contribute positively to the economy. Mr Speaker, hitherto, we used to have a place that when we were growing we knew it to be called abofra bone, borstal. I do not know whether the Borstal Institute is still functioning properly or
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I beg to comment on the Statement ably made by my Hon Colleague on the other side of the aisle. Mr Speaker, it is unfortunate that while we celebrate 60 years of independence, we have continuously had to discuss the issue of our prisoners. I recall that in 2015, the issue of the decongestion of our prisons was mentioned in a Statement in this particular House, and it looks as if whenever we discuss issues of this nature, it ends here. No action is taken. Mr Speaker, if you watch televisions that show our prisons and the inmates, sometimes or mostly at night, you would wonder the essence of sending these people to prison, because with the manner in which they are packed, pardon me to say, like sardine in those rooms, it could lead to suffocation and death of some of them. I would not even talk about communicable diseases that are very easily contagious. Most of them as has been mentioned are people who I would say are not supposed to be there. For instance, if you have people whose cases have not been properly dealt with at the police station, maybe the person has spent only one day in the police station, I do not see why the person from court the following day should be whisked straight to Nsawam Prisons, when we know very well that the place is already congested. There are a lot of ways in which we could reform some of these people, especially the young ones. We have some of them who are not even up to 22 years who are languishing in prison, and some of them when they come out -- I remember watching a programme where one lawyer, I cannot recall her name, came out with a programme where she tried to listen to some prisoners. When you listened, there was nothing that showed that the person should be there. The person has been there for more than 10 years, there is no judgement, and the person would not be released. So, at the end of the day, we tend to ask ourselves what the problem is. Some of them have come out to make it look like because they do not have money to take lawyers, they are being punished, and also because they do not have people out there to support them and take up their issues, they are being punished. Mr Speaker, it is a shame that at this level, we in Ghana cannot put in place a way of reforming some of these people who have committed minor crimes to do communal labour or community services, if I should put it that way. Mr Speaker, we should be able to do these things. This is because if one is in a community and is not known to be a thief or known to have committed certain crimes that are not acceptable, then the law enforcement agencies could go back to his community and let them understand that this is the crime that the person has committed and for that reason, he is supposed to clear a particular gutter for one good year. By so doing, I believe that people would reform. Mr Speaker, I normally ask myself a lot of questions when it comes to the issue of insufficient money to feed our prisoners. In the good old days, what I used to see was that even when the prisoners were not many, they used to go and work. They had their own farms, and foodstuffs from their farms, were used to feed them.
Hon Member, let me just draw your attention to the fact that the Statement is on the challenges in our prisons. It talks about the conditions and the facilities that we provide for prisoners. We should not make comments on the whole justice system.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, all I am saying is to lead to the fact that we would need to decongest our prisons. We need to keep an eye on our prisons, and make sure that justice is justified, so that at least, these prisons are decongested and there would be enough room, which would go a long way to uplift the Prisons Service and provide more accommodation and more food because if there are less people, at least there would not be the need for so much food and the need for so many rooms to accommodate them. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you for the opportunity.
Hon K. T. Hammond?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, to start with, I am grateful to the person who made the Statement. I am also happy and to a good extent, would want to adopt a considerable lot of what the Hon Good Lady said. Mr Speaker, my worry is on your statement to the fact that we may not have to take on the entire gamut of judicial activities or the Judiciary. Mr Speaker, there is a complete correlation between the two. Without them, these people would not be in the prison place to start with, and that --
Hon Member, my issue is on her questioning the justice system. This is a matter that went to the court and went through trial. Her statement relied on information from the suspect or the convict. So, by so doing, she raises doubt about the integrity of the justice system; but this Statement talks about the challenges in the prison. I would want us to please focus on that. If there is a Statement on the justice system in the country, then why not? Hon Members would be permitted to make comments on it, but not this one.
Mr Speaker, I understood her to have said that there are so many people in the prisons, and consequently, these are the fallouts of the number of people in there. That, I understood her --
Hon Member, what you said is a general statement, but she mentioned a specific woman, who, according to her, was an owner of a premises where they found some narcotic drugs, and the Hon Member's statement was that she had no knowledge of it, but nobody was prepared to listen to her. That was why I told her that she was going into the justice system.
I am grateful, Mr Speaker. I entirely understand you. Mr Speaker, the worry I also have is; why is it that -- and she made that point quite adequately that somebody stays in a prison, sometimes a real prison, and not a police custody or anything. The person is sent to actual prison, and in some cases, for about five, or three years for an offence which ultimately the person might be sentenced for as minimal term as about six months or whatever. That is what I meant about the system of justice. Mr Speaker, number one it is a reflection on really what happens with the prosecution right through to the Judiciary -- the sentencing system. So, at the level of the sentencing, why do we not have a system where not everybody goes to prison? I heard you castigate the Hon Member for suggesting that snatching somebody's phone is a trivial offence. I can understand that.
Hon Member, you may withdraw that statement. I never castigated any Hon Member of Parliament. I only stated that let it not be said that this House views snatching of mobile phones as petty thievery. I did not castigate her.
Mr Speaker, maybe my understanding of “castigate” is suspect. If it is not suspect, then I thought that it is simply criticising somebody, and I thought that you were not happy with the use of that, and so said that it could not be right. That is how I understood you, but if my understanding is not right, then maybe --
Hon K. T. Hammond, the proceedings we conduct are in public, and they are subject to reportage, not only in the Hansard, but in the media as well, and I am just drawing the attention that it is not the position of this House that we classify that kind of violent crime as petty thievery. That is all. I drew her attention to it, and did not castigate her.
Mr Speaker, I agree with you entirely. I was moving over
Withdraw which one? Mr Speaker, I was drawing your attention to the cassava --
Hon Member, I gave a ruling that you should withdraw that.
Did you say I should withdraw that?
Yes. I have not castigated any Hon Member.
All right, I will withdraw. You did not castigate anybody for that. I withdraw that. On the matter of cassava and goats and whatever; Mr Speaker, what is the rationality in keeping a person in custody for as long as it takes before the matter comes to court in the first place? Mr Speaker, when the matter has come to court, why should a person like this go to prison for the number of years that we have described?
Hon Afenyo-Markin is on his feet. Any point of order?
Hon Member, you may see me in chambers. [Laughter.] I like the way you went about it; because you were prevented from going through the main door, you decided to go through the window. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, these boys do not learn properly. He had persuaded me that he would want to come by stealth. I agreed with that and then he got up and wanted to put his “big boy” in some predicament. Next time, I will not --
Hon Members, we have one more Statement to take so please, I am going to limit contributions so that we can take the other Statement.
Mr Speaker, I will try and wind up. Mr Speaker, I believe you get the drift of the point I am making. I believe the whole system of sentencing, the whole system of putting people in either police or prison custody, sometimes for the period which is longer than the sentence that would be given them by the court is a matter to worry about. Then in the end, you go to the various prisons and the whole place is crowded. Mr Speaker, it is to the credit of the Chief Justice and the others who are members of the Judiciary -- In recent years, they developed the Justice for All system where, Mr Speaker, they went to the prisons and --
Hon Minister for Zongo Development and Inner Cities. Or is it Inner Cities and Zongo Development?
Mr Speaker, I am on a point of order. My Hon --
Please, can I get the nomenclature of your Ministry right?
It is Inner City and Zongo Development.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member described my young Hon Colleague as “a small boy”; that he is a small boy. I do not know whether in Parliament, we have small boys and girls. -- [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, if we can have a situation where the -- [Laughter.]
Hon K. T. Hammond, I did not hear you describe Hon Afenyo-Markin as “a small boy” but my attention has been drawn to it. Did you so describe him?
Mr Speaker, when you get up on your feet, a lot of things cram in your head, so, I do not recall calling him -- [Laughter.]
What are you telling the House?
That I do not recall Mr Speaker.
You do not recall? Hon Afenyo-Markin, did you hear him describe you as a “small boy”?
Hon K. T. Hammond, it is completely unparliamentary and you should withdraw it.
Mr Speaker, if I did, it was in the heat of it so I withdraw it.
Kindly withdraw it.
I have done that. Mr Speaker, in summing up, let this whole matter of sentencing -- Mr Speaker, we cannot leave it to the discretion of judicial convention. Let us have a proper debate. The Executive should bring a Bill to this House. Mr Speaker, let us debate it. Let us stipulate proper sentencing power which reflects modern practices. Let us have a proper face look for the Prison Service. Mr Speaker, far too many people go to prison for matters -- I believe community sentences would be served adequately as is practised in other jurisdictions. There is a difficulty in this country; we must look at our sentencing powers of the courts. We must also look at the beginning of prosecution with the police. We should have proper prosecution service in this country. Mr Speaker, let us debate this matter. It is about time that we look at it in its entirety. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
I have to allow two more contributions because there are two Hon Ladies who are itching to contribute. I will first recognise Hon Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings.
Mr Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Hon Member who made the Statement and also make a small comment regarding this. The psychiatric hospitals appear to be an extension of some of the prisons, so my comment is just to draw our attention to the fact that there are a lot of people who are in the psychiatric hospitals. For example, in Accra, the Accra Psychiatric Hospital has a section that is specifically for patients who are inmates as a result of being prosecuted within the criminal justice system. The problem with some of these patients is that the cases have either been dismissed or have gone ahead and been processed and these persons who have been admitted to the hospitals have not been called back. So, they have remained there and the doctors just have to care for them and they are also taking up a lot of capacity there and nobody knows what their fate is because the cases that resulted in them being kept in these hospitals have not been followed up. This is to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the prisons seem to be offloading some of the inmates into the hospitals and the hospitals are not managing to send them back. That is the complaints that we have received from
Hon Member, you could bring a Statement on that specific issue. I do not know whether it is the Prisons Service that is offloading or it is the Judiciary that is consigning them there. You can bring a Statement on it and then the House will have the opportunity to make comments on that. But this one is strictly on the facilities in the prisons.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member, I do not intend to extend Sitting. We have about five minutes to two o'clock and so, if you would wind up. The next person is not available to make her Statement; that is why I am giving you that time.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I want to suggest and propose that, prison officers should be given the mandate backed by law to send remand prisoners to and from the Prison Service to the Court. That, I believe, would somehow expedite action on the judicial process. But sometimes too, the prison officers would have to look for the police officers who are handling the case before we follow up on them to send the remand prisoners to court. And sometimes too, it boils down to transportation and other problems. Mr Speaker, I also propose that, for example, the introduction of non- custodian service would also help to ease congestion in the Ghana Prisons Service. We have something in other jurisdictions called “probation services”. In our part of the world, I do not think we have that kind of a thing. If we could introduce the probation services, non-custodian services and home supervision services, where depending on your crime and sentence, you can serve your sentence in some particular institutions or some particular home, while the Prison officers take care of you. My Hon Colleagues on the other side of the House talked about sending prisoners to the farm to work and to have some food for the prison inmates. You cannot send everybody to the farm. We have categories of prisoners who are sent outside the jurisdiction. You must have served a number of years, and you must have been of a good behaviour. There are certain criteria that we use to determine who goes out to work on the farm or who does not go out. So, Mr Speaker, for us as a nation, to be able to decongest our prisons, we need to put up more prison facilities, we need to expedite the judicial process, we need to look at other penalties like the non- custodian sentences, the probation and the home service sentence that would also help to ease congestion in the Ghana Prison Service. Mr Speaker, in winding up, I would also propose that it is time that the name Ghana Prisons Service be changed to Ghana Correctional and Reformation Service to reflect the key function of the Ghana Prisons Service. But Mr Speaker, we cannot talk about decongesting the prisons without talking about the welfare of the Prisons Service and the prison officers as well. So, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the inadequate budgetary allocation --
Hon Member, your last sentence.
Mr Speaker, I would like to say that we should put together a well thought through policy that would guide the running and servicing of the Ghana Prisons Service. We should expedite action on the judicial process and we should also give the Ghana Prisons Service enough resources to enable them to reform the inmates who come to the prisons so that when they come out, they would be well integrated into the society. Mr Speaker, my last sentence -- [Uproar!] -- The former Speaker of the Sixth Parliament referred my previous Statement to the Defence and the Interior Committee and asked them to work on some of the challenges and the way forward but up till now, nothing came back to the floor. So, I want to draw your attention that we should take a particular interest in this particular Statement and see how best we can all work together to decongest the Ghana Prison Service.
Hon Member, you could follow it up to see what has happened to the referral. Leadership?
Mr Speaker, I think that we have been occupied enough and looking at the time, and because Hon Members are also preparing assiduously towards debating the Budget tomorrow, I would move that, this House adjourns to tomorrow, 8th March, 2017, at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon. Except to add that the other car dealers also want to make their presentations. So, after the adjournment, Hon Members can wait and listen to the car dealers as well.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion that this House be adjourned till tomorrow. But before I second officially, Mr Speaker, I thought you would give available Leaders opportunity to also comment on the Statement made by our Hon Colleague. But since you want to adjourn the House, I second the Motion. Thank you.
Hon Member, in essence, what is the effect of what you have done now? Have you seconded the Motion?
Yes, Mr Speaker, I seconded the Motion.
Thank you. Question put and Motion agreed to.