Officials of the Awutu Senya East Municipal Assembly (ASEMA) have lauded Crime Check Foundation (CCF) for organizing the first-ever sensitization on the bye-laws of the Municipal Assembly in the quest to improve citizens’ knowledge on the laws to reduce arrests, harassments, fines, and imprisonments under the laws.
Speaking at a workshop organized by CCF on the bye-laws of the Awutu Senya East Municipal on Thursday 22nd July, 2021, in Kasoa, the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for the Awutu Senya East Municipal Assembly, Hon. Michael Yaw Essuman Mensah registered his appreciation for the choice of Awutu Senya East Municipal as one of the beneficiary MMDAs for CCF’s Decriminalizing Vagrancy Laws and Advocacy project. The intervention which seeks to create an enabling environment for vagrants (the homeless, street hawkers, head porters, vendors, truck pushers, market women, artisans, and other identifiable and vulnerable groups) to know, claim and exercise their rights and responsibilities in Ghana, is supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
According to the MCE, the project is very important because “Kasoa is home to many vagrants and poor persons who do not have any specific place to live. They move from place to place. A lot of them sleep under the bridge at night. Some of them steal a ball of a ‘kenkey’ to eat, and they are arrested. Worse of all, they do not have lawyers to represent them in court. This calls for alternative solutions to custodial sentencing so that we do not continue to send the poor into prison”. He said.
He added that the message from the CCF-OSIWA project is consistent with a ruling against ‘vagrancy laws’ by the African Courts on Human and People’s Rights in December 2020 that will improve the rights of vagrants as well as the poor and illiterate persons in Ghana. He however, warned that the implementation of the project did not mean bye-laws should deliberately be flouted.
The Presiding Member of the Awutu Senya East Municipal Assembly, Jones Kwarteng said the Assembly will offer the necessary support for the successful implementation of the project.
The Municipal Environment and Health Officer, Mr. Godson Lodo took participants through various sections of the bye-laws of the Assembly that ‘vagrants’ and other poor residents are arrested, fined or imprisoned for.
About OSIWA: The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), established in 2000, is a grant-making and advocacy organization focused on equality, justice, democratic governance, human rights, and knowledge generation. It is part of the global network of Open Society Foundations spread across 37 countries around the world. He said the Assemblies outrageously fine these vagrants for committing petty offences.
Citizens’ Complaints: To report harassment and potential imprisonment under a local assembly bye-law, please contact or whatsApp: 0559544199 / 0507353539