I have had the opportunity to read both articles by Prof. Atua and my friend, Nana Kweku Bosompem, on the issue of the President’s imposition of restriction due to the COVID outbreak. Since I have read both articles, there is this load on me to deliver a better view, and I hope I’m able to do so.
Prof. Atua spoke not only of the broad limitations imposed on Ghanaians by the President under the guise of “restriction on movement” but also on certain procedural breach by the President. Since Bosompem’s article did not touch on those breaches, I think I shall let that lie, save to say that I agree with Prof. Atua on those remarks. In terse, Prof. Atua on the issue of infringement of rights, averred that the President had not only taken away our freedom to move but also that of religion and education.
It was that conclusion by Prof. Atua which, I presume, provoked Nana Bosompem’s article where he interestingly revealed that human rights are interdependent. He concluded saying;
“It is my submission, therefore, that the right to freedom of movement is so broad that it influences almost every other right because in truth, if we cannot move about freely, how can we attend lectures or worship with our brothers in faith at the mosque or church.”
I indeed found the response interesting, but I’m unable to fully accept his view, this is because accepting it will INDIRECTLY AGREE with Prof. Atua’s view. Let me show how – Nana Bosompem is saying, I put in my own words that because human rights are interdependent, in this instance, freedom of movement also means freedom of education and freedom of religion. Let me rephrase: Bosompem is implying that because our freedom of movement has been curtailed, “how can we attend lectures or worship…”. Let me rephrase once more: because movement has been curtailed, it is the case that freedom of education and religion have been curtailed so to speak. Any of the above digest of Bosompem’s view actually indirectly concurs with Prof. Atua’s view that our freedom of education and religion have been curtailed. It is on this ground that I’m unable to fully accept Bosompem’s view.
Has freedom of religion been taken away? It is sad that I’m unable to provide legal definitions and decided cases to make my arguments. Though I admit that the posture will affect the quality of this write-up it occurs to me that notwithstanding, the core message can still be put forward. I shall do so using a circumstantial path to reach my journey.
We can all attest that despite our inability to move from our homes to churches or mosques (because of restriction), online services have begun and continue to operate. TV stations continue to show and broadcast sermons and preachings. Last Sunday, I watched a friend’s status where she and her family dressed up and actually held a Palm Sunday service. The President, in his speech to the nation on COVID-19 acknowledged and attached some reverence to Palm Sunday. Prayer has not been criminalized. Therefore I find it difficult to appreciate how that freedom has been taken away from us.
Has freedom of education been taken away from us because schools have been “closed down”? I put close down in quotes, because I know that UG has begun its e-learning program and no arrests have been made thence. Has education been criminalized? How can this purportedly be said to be done when for instance the state television, GTV, has launched a 24hr educational channel where accredited teachers have been employed to teach?
The circumstances on the ground do not suggest that the said freedoms have been taken away from us. In conclusion, although (some) human rights are interdependent, freedom of movement, freedom of religion and freedom of education can live side by side without fundamental upsets.