Sanctions for not wearing face mask too harsh

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A private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu, wants the government to lessen the sanctions it has set for persons who fail to comply with the directive for the compulsory wearing of face mask in public.

According to him, the current sanction regime is too harsh and must be reconsidered.

Speaking on Eyewitness News on Tuesday, the lawyer said the current situation will create problems and must be reviewed.

He further noted the challenge of drivers being guilty of not wearing a mask even if they are alone in their cars under the relevant Executive Instrument.

Executive Instrument (E.I. 164), which signed by President Akufo-Addo on June 15, 2020, as part of measures to curb the spread of the COVID -19, states, per Section 6 of Act 1012, that “a person who fails to comply with the restrictions imposed under the Executive Instrument issued under subsection 1 of Section 2 commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than 1,000 penalty unit (GH¢12,000) and not more than 5,000 penalty units (GH¢ 60,000) or to a term of imprisonment not less than four years and not more than 10 years or to both.”

But according to Martin Kpebu, the amount should be reduced to a rate commensurate with Ghana’s economic status.

“It is rather draconian so we are calling on the president to look at the sanction regime too. If you compare, at least from the little internet search I have done, across the world you see some countries charge $200, elsewhere $50, $100, £1000 pounds in the UK and so on. Those are smaller sums of monies as compared to what Ghana has.”

Martin Kpebu also argued that given the level of sanctions some advanced countries are meting out to errant citizens with regards to flouting such COVID-19 directives, Ghana’s sanctions appear to be high-handed.

He, therefore, suggested that the government considers sanctions of about GH¢750 using the base salary of NABCO trainees.

“I will prefer we use the NABCO salary as the benchmark, NABCO employees earn about GH¢750 a month so you can look at that. If you say the minimum sentence for not wearing the nose mask is GH¢12,000, it means that a NABCO employee will work the whole year and still not be able to pay. We should look at income levels and bring it down,” he said.

He also suggested that the government presents an option of community service to offenders.

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