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Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2017 - Ghana

The second reading occurs after a bill has been referred to the appropriate parliamentary committee. The report of the committee, the bill and its explanatory memorandum shall be subjected to a full debate by the full house. It is at this stage that amendments may be entertained. If there are more than twenty proposed amendments to any bill at this stage, the bill has to undergo the winnowing process before the appropriate parliamentary committee.

All bills move from then to the consideration stage where it is reviewed clause by clause. The third reading occurs after a bill has passed through the consideration stage. It is signified by a formal Motion and is not accompanied by a debate. Parliament shall reconsider this bill in the light of the comments by the President or the Council of State. Such a bill will need the favor of support from two-thirds of all members of Parliament to mandate a Presidential assent and become law.

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The debates of the committee of Parliament as well as those of the full house are recorded verbatim by the Hansard department of the Office of the Clerk of Parliament. These recordings and other documents of Parliament, including bills are published as Official Report or the Hansard of the Parliament of Ghana.

It constitutes a rich source for the legislative history of the laws of Ghana. During the colonial regime, the government, from time to time, would publish consolidated statutes in force as of a certain date. In , on the authority of the Revised Edition of the Laws Gold Coast Ordinance, , a Commissioner was appointed to prepare a revised edition of the laws of the Gold Coast, covering the period from to It was published in four volumes.

Another revised edition was published in that extended the accumulation to That had nine volumes. Regrettably, that practice was not followed after independence except for the singular effort in with the publication of the Consolidated Acts of Ghana. In , an Index to the Statutes in Force was also published.

The result is that it is often difficult for even lawyers to tell whether a statute or a particular section of a statute is in force. The Review of Ghana Law publishes a section, titled Statutory Intelligence, where it notes those statutes and sections of existing statutes that have been repealed or amended.

It does the same for subsidiary legislation. In , Sozo Law Consult started the publication of a digest of laws passed each year, noting the new laws, amended laws and revoked laws. It is presently current up to This publication is called Legislative Watch. Accra: Sozo Law Consult, Successive Governments in Ghana have been concerned about the difficulty of tracking and locating the laws of Ghana. Until recently, the response was piece-meal, by passing legislation to identify laws that should be repealed or revoked. In , Government assumed a legislative obligation under the Laws of Ghana Revised Edition Act, Act , to revise, compile and publish a consolidated laws of Ghana as of January 1, It took nine years and two legislative amendments for Government to make good on this promise.

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It is in a loose-leaf format, allowing for annual updates by means of service issues. It includes a chronological index of statutes from to showing the action taken on each law. The following official sources exist for locating legislation in Ghana. Primarily they are only print sources:. Datacenta is the only note-worthy unofficial publisher of Ghanaian legislation. Its online resources promise to offer the most comprehensive access to Ghanaian legal information, including legislation. Presently, it puts out Ghanaian legislation in the following formats:.

Datacenta has formed a partnership with Lexis-Nexis South Africa to electronically publish the Laws of Ghana Revised Edition , and its annual updates. The following multi-jurisdictional databases offer access to relevant Ghanaian legislation:. The Constitution classifies subsidiary legislation as part of the laws of Ghana. Article 11 7 of the Constitution provides further that any Order, Rule or Regulation made by a person or authority under a power conferred by the Constitution or any other law, shall be laid before Parliament, published in the Gazette and comes into force after twenty-one sitting days of Parliament, unless two-thirds or more members of Parliament vote to annul it.

The colonial subsidiary legislation was usually published as part of, or as special supplement to, the annual or consolidated compilations of laws after they had appeared in the official gazettes.

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Subsidiary legislation in Ghana includes legislative instruments, executive instruments, constitutional instruments and regulatory notices of government ministries, government departments and agencies. Article of the Constitution clarifies further that an enactment could be an Act of Parliament, a Decree, a Law or a constitutional instrument, or a statutory instrument or any provision thereof.

Section 4 of the Statutory Instrument Act, , as amended, defines a legislative instrument as a statutory instrument declared by the Attorney-General to be legislative in character. As a general rule, an instrument is legislative in character if it determines or alters the law, rather than applying it in a particular case, and has direct or indirect effect of affecting privilege or interest, imposing an obligation, creating a right, or varying or removing an obligation or right. Section 5 of the Statutory Instruments Act, , as amended, states that statutory instruments other than legislative instruments or instruments of a judicial character shall be known as executive instruments.

Article of the Constitution defines constitutional instruments as instruments made under a power conferred by the Constitution.

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The official sources for subsidiary legislation in Ghana are:. Datacenta again, through the LexisNexis South Africa platform, offers the best access to subsidiary legislation in Ghana. It offers them as follows:. Ghana, being a common law jurisdiction, case law and judicial precedent play an important role in the law and its development.

Article 3 of the Constitution states that the judicial power of Ghana shall be vested in the Judiciary. Article of the Constitution mandates the independence of the judiciary. Article of the Constitution pronounces that the Supreme Court shall be the final court of appeal.

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The Supreme Court, while treating its previous decisions as normally binding, may depart from them if it appears right to do so. Article 4 of the Constitution empowers the Chief Justice to create divisions of the High Court. A Commercial Court was thus created in March When the Chief Justice first created a Fast Track Court, as a high tech division of the High Court aimed at dealing expeditiously with selected cases, its constitutionality was tested in the Supreme Court.

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Attorney-General [Civil Motion No. It appears, though, that in practice, they are becoming as slow as the traditional courts. The Constitution also allows for the creation of Regional Tribunals, whose membership may include non-lawyers. Regional Tribunals have the status of the High Court and are duly constituted by a Chairman and no less than two other members. They have the jurisdiction to try offences against the State and the Public Interest as Parliament may prescribe by law.

The Circuit Court has both civil and criminal jurisdiction. The civil jurisdiction includes matters arising under contract, torts or the recovery of all liquidated claims not exceeding GHc 10, The Circuit Court also has jurisdiction in applications for probate and letters of administration where the value of the estate does not exceed GHc10, The Circuit Court has original jurisdiction in all criminal matters other than treason and offences punishable by death.

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Since March , a Domestic Violence Court has been created under the Domestic Violence Act, Act to facilitate the speedy resolution of domestic violence cases. Two special utility weekend Saturday courts were also established in Accra on March 1, , to try utility cases involving the Electricity Company of Ghana Ltd. One of these utility courts has the jurisdiction of a Circuit Court while the other has the jurisdiction of a District Court. This brings to four the number of weekend courts in Accra. The District Courts remain the lowest in the judicial hierarchy of the modern, as opposed to the traditional, court system.

There is, at least, one in each administrative district in the country. The District Court exercises both civil and criminal jurisdiction. Its civil jurisdiction includes all personal actions arising under contract or tort for recovery of any liquidated sum not exceeding GHc5, Its criminal jurisdiction involves summary trial of offences punishable by a fine not exceeding GHc Three specialized courts have been created at the district court level, namely, the Juvenile Court, the Family Tribunal and Motor Courts. The traditional court system, namely, judicial committees of the National House of Chiefs, the Regional Houses of Chiefs and the Traditional Council have jurisdiction only in respect of causes or matters affecting chieftaincy.

The decisions of the Lower Courts are not published. The Council for Law Reporting, the official reporter of case law in Ghana, is legislatively required to publish only decisions of the Superior Courts. On the whole, the system of law reporting leaves a lot to be desired. The official reporters are often tardy and there was a period when cases were merely reported in digest form and not in full text. The present run ends in Since , another unofficial reporter has appeared exclusively for Supreme Court decisions. It is a print resource. It appears to be more up to date, currently available up to There is no comprehensive index to Ghanaian case law. Each volume of the Ghana Law Reports has a subject-matter index, an index of cases cited and judicially noticed as well as statutes and subsidiary legislation judicially noticed. The editors of the Ghana Law Reports have published, from time to time, cumulative indexes. Presently, there are cumulative indexes covering and The following reporters are available for both modern and colonial cases:.

Article 11 2 of the Constitution identifies the common law as a source of law in Ghana. The common law is defined to include the rules generally known as the common law, the rules generally known as the doctrines of equity and the rules of customary law including those determined by the Superior Court of Judicature. This is a reference to the judge-made law that propelled the English legal system and those of its colonies. In , by Section 61 of P. Law 42, the revolutionary government clearly modified the force of colonial legislation as follows:.

This is a reference to the English doctrines of equity as they have evolved in England and Ghana. Article 11 3 of the Constitution defines customary law as the rules of law, which by custom are applicable to particular communities.