The Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court has ordered the Electoral Commission (EC ) to implement the Representation of the People Amendment Act (ROPAA)2006 (Act699), which gives Ghanaians in the diaspora the right to vote, within 12 months.
Per the court order, the EC must operationalise the Act by laying a constitutional provision (CI) before Parliament to set out the modalities for the implementation of the Act.
In a judgement delivered Monday, the Court, presided over by Mr Justice Anthony Yeboah, said the 12 months grace period starts from January 1, 2018 and it is to enable Ghanaians in the diaspora to vote in the 2020 elections
In case the electoral body has any justifiable reason not to comply with the order, the court ordered it to within 30 days to the expiration of the deadline, publish its reasons and also appear before the court to explain.
The judgement was the culmination of a legal suit filed by 5 Ghanaians in the diaspora, who went to court on the basis that the EC had deliberately refused to implement the Act 699, 11 years after it was passed.
They argued that the refusal of the EC to implement Act 699 was an affront to their fundamental human rights as enshrined by the 1992 Constitution. They, therefore, wanted the court to order the EC to kickstart the implementation of the Act since it was its statutory obligation.
In the judgement, the court held that the EC had failed to justify the delay in implementation of the Act.
According to the court although the EC was aware of its obligation to implement the Act, it “deliberately” failed to implement and gave no cogent justification
“The 1st respondent (EC) is only good at reciting the challenges in implementing the Act and not finding solutions to the challenges”, Mr Justice Yeboah said.
Also the court ruled that it was “outrageous “ for the EC to set itself an indefinite deadline to implement the Act without taking into consideration the rights of Ghanaians in the diaspora.