Court Clears Ghanaians Living Abroad To Vote In 2020

An Accra High Court has ordered the Electoral Commission (EC) to within one year implement the Representation of the People Amendment Act (ROPAA ) law.

The judge court Anthony Yeboah in his judgment condemned the EC for breaching the rights of the diasporans to vote for the last ten years.

According to him, the excuses given by the commission for not implementing the law did not hold hence is decision.

Justice Yeboah further  ordered the EC and its commissioners to ensure all eligible Ghanaians living outside are registered and allowed to partake in the 2020 general elections.

Five Ghanaians resident in the United States have sued the Electoral Commission (EC) over the non-implementation of the law.

The applicants want the Human Rights High Court to declare that the failure by the EC to operationalise the Act since it became law on February 24, 2006, is a breach of their fundamental rights under the various laws (Articles 42 and 33 (5), (Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, etc.) and legal instruments.

The five – Kofi A. Boateng, Agyenim Boateng, Nellie Kemevor, Obed Danquah and Christiana Sillim also want the court to declare that the refusal to uphold full operationalization of the Act by the Attorney General (AG) – who is also a party to the suit – since it became law, is a breach of the said various laws and legal instruments.

Charlotte Osei, EC Chairperson

Charlotte Osei, EC Chairperson

The Applicants who are all members of the Progressive Alliance Movement (PAM) a New York State incorporated non-profit organization, seek from the Court “a Declaration that Applicants have fundamental human rights under Articles 17(2), 42 and 33(5), of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act 2006 [Act 699] Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, Article 25 of The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Protocol 1 (article 3) of the European Convention on Human Rights,

a) “to be registered as voter[s]” while resident abroad and being outside the jurisdiction of the Republic of Ghana, and doing so from/at their places of residence abroad or designated centers close to their places of residence abroad or from/at the Ghana Mission/Embassy within their jurisdiction abroad;

b) to be issued voters Identity Cards “to enable” them “to vote in public elections and referenda” while resident abroad and being outside the jurisdiction of the Republic of Ghana at the time of such elections, and doing so from/at their places of residence abroad or designated centers close to their places of residence abroad or from/at the Ghana Mission/Embassy within their jurisdiction abroad;

c) “to vote in public elections and referenda” particularly Presidential and Parliamentary elections while resident abroad and being outside the jurisdiction of the Republic of Ghana at the time of such elections, and doing so from/at their places of residence abroad or designated centers close to their places of residence abroad or from/at the Ghana Mission/Embassy within their jurisdiction abroad;

d) A Declaration that the non-compliance of 1st Respondent in particular to operationalize the Act 699 since same became law on the 24th day of February 2006 is a breach of Applicants’ fundamental rights under said various laws and legal instruments;

e) A Declaration 2nd Respondent’s failure, neglect or refusal to uphold/ensure full compliance/operationalization of the Act 699 since same became law on the 24th day of February 2006 is a breach of Applicants’ fundamental rights under said various laws and legal instruments;

f) A Declaration that each of the Applicant’s “right to vote and entitle[ment] to be registered as a voter for the purposes of public elections and referenda” in light of the Act 699 and said various laws and legal instruments is not subject to any condition precedent aside the article 42 age and sanity of mind criteria;

g) A Declaration that it is discriminatory for Respondents particularly 1st Respondent to continue to register abroad and ensure that a category of citizens studying abroad or working in Ghana’s Missions/Embassies abroad vote in public elections and referenda while abroad to the exclusion of the Applicants.

h) An Order of mandamus directed at Respondents particularly 1st Respondent to forthwith, uphold/ensure full compliance/operationalisation of Act 699.

The Electoral Commission at the last hearing prayed the court to allow it prove it was in the process of implementing the law, but failed to provide enough evidence to that effect.

The EC, primarily argued that, it had plans to implement the law and should not be compelled to do so.

It also challenged the process by which the applicants invoked the court’s jurisdiction as wrong, while insisting that the right to vote is not a human right.

State Attorneys representing the 2nd Respondent in court had at the start of the case also told the court that they will associate themselves with arguments of lawyers of the 1st Respondent (EC), throughout the entire process.

The case was originally filed in 2016, but withdrawn ahead of the elections and refiled after the elections.

The applicants are Kofi A. Boateng, Nellie Kemevor, Obed Danquah, Christiana Sillim and Agyenim Boateng, all residing in New York State and Kentucky in the USA.

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