Akufo-Addo Raises Concerns In Criminal Offences Amendment Bill5 min read
This was after he raised constitutional matters in the Bill.
In the letter he wrote and read by the Speaker of Parliament on Monday, December 4, President Akufo-Addo said ” I am writing to you in reference to our meeting held on the 28th of November 2023 at my office where we discussed the outstanding bills presented for assent namely The Criminal Offenses Amendment Bill 2023, Criminal Offences Amendment number 2 Bill 2023, and the Armed Forces Amendment Bill 2023. During our conversation, I raised specific constitutional concerns regarding these bills related to Article 108 of the Constitution particularly the nature of these bills which were introduced into parliament as private members’ bills rather than being presented by me or on my behalf….
“As I indicated the content of these bills have my support but we need to ensure that they are enacted in line with established constitutional and legislative process. After thorough consideration and in light of the constitutional issue I pointed out during our meeting, I am unable to assent to these bills. The concerns raised are significant and have profound implications for the constitutional integrity of these legislative actions. Any legislation we pass must be in complete alignment with the provisions of our constitution. I intend to have these bills reintroduced in Parliament on my behalf in due course.”
Last week, the Presidency dismissed reports that Mr Akufo-Addo had been silent on the bill.
The seat of government said it was wholly inaccurate that the Bill has been sitting on the desk of the President without receiving due attention.
This was after Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin raised concerns about the failure of the President to communicate to Parliament whether he has assented or disapproved of the bill.
Parliament passed the bill on Tuesday, July 25, which, when signed by the president, will criminalize attacks on alleged witches and prohibit any persons from operating as a witch doctor or a witch-finder.
Mr Bagbin indicated that he had not received any communications from the presidency regarding the signing of the bill.
“At a number of events, the president, during the recess, indicated to me verbally that he wants to discuss something with me. That is all. He didn’t talk specifically about the bill. It is the Majority Leader who spoke to me about the bill, stating that he has sight of it and saw that what has been compiled has problems. So I directed the clerk at the table to go through the deliberations of the house to see if they were the ones that had been captured.
“On the final day, the Majority Leader was not available. But Parliament has established a department called a legislative office, and they are called upon to capture what happens here before sending it to the draft department for them to compile the decisions of the house in the form of the bill. So there is a procedure in doing this. And for us not to receive any communication from the presidency, even to acknowledge receipt or to say they have a problem with it, that is definitely unacceptable,” he said on Monday November 27.
But in a statement, the Director of Communications at the Presidency Eugene Arhin, said “It is important to state, at the outset, that the amendment is specifically designed to outlaw the roles of witch doctors or witch-finders, in addition to prohibiting the act of declaring, accusing, naming, or labelling an individual as a witch, alongside other related matters.
“Contrary to the claims made in these reports by the Speaker of Parliament and the Minority Caucus in Parliament, President Akufo-Addo has not remained silent on the Bill. How could the Speaker of Parliament accuse the President of remaining silent on the Bill when it was officially presented to him on Monday, 27th November 2023, the same day the Speaker made the accusation?”
Below is the full statement…
The Office of the President has noted recent media reports suggesting that the President has declined to assent to the Criminal Offences (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2023 (the “Bill”), a legislative measure aimed at amending the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29). Indeed, the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Bagbin, is reported, on Monday, 27th November, to have “rebuked Akufo-Addo over ‘silence’ on the Criminal Offences Amendment Bill”.
It is important to state, at the outset, that the amendment is specifically designed to outlaw the roles of witch doctors or witch-finders, in addition to prohibiting the act of declaring, accusing, naming, or labelling an individual as a witch, alongside other related matters.
Contrary to the claims made in these reports by the Speaker of Parliament and the Minority Caucus in Parliament, President Akufo-Addo has not remained silent on the Bill. How could the Speaker of Parliament accuse the President of remaining silent on the Bill when it was officially presented to him on Monday, 27th November 2023, the same day the Speaker made the accusation?
Indeed, the Bill was officially presented to the President for his assent together with the Wildlife Resources Management Bill, 2023 and National Petroleum Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2023, under cover of a letter dated 27th November 2023, with reference PS/CS/112/826. (See attachment).
It is, thus, wholly inaccurate that the Bill has been sitting on the desk of the President without receiving due attention.
President Akufo-Addo is mindful of Article 106 (7) of the Constitution, which affords the President seven (7) days to review and give his assent to any Bill presented to him. In light of this constitutional provision, it is important to note that the President is still well within the legally stipulated timeframe to make a decision regarding the Bill. During this period, the President may examine the bill thoroughly and, if necessary, convey any concerns or suggestions he might have regarding its contents to Parliament.
The Office of the President assures the public and media that Bills, including this current Bill, the Criminal Offences (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2023, are being attended to with the utmost respect for constitutional mandates and legislative processes.