Amendment of 1992 Constitution: Let’s not brush off calls — Justice Pwamang
Justice Gabriel Pwamang, Justice of the Supreme Court, has called on Government to implement the full recommendations of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) to address the shortcomings of the 1992 Constitution.
Calls for the amendment of certain aspects of the Constitution have been intensified by various individuals and groups, including Civil Society Organisations, political commentators and religious leaders, in recent times.
Speaking at the 2022 Annual Constitution Week Lecture and Panel Discussion organised by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) in Accra, on Tuesday, Justice Pwamang, said the momentum surrounding recent calls for constitutional amendment must not be “brushed off” or given little consideration by the Government.
“There seems to be a new spirit of constitutional consciousness rising among us, the likes of, which have never been experienced in this country,” he said.
He added that: “We need to open our ears widely to the loud whispers of this spirit and be sensitive to its guidance if we are to achieve a better quality of life for Ghanaians.”
He was speaking under the theme: “Three Decades of Uninterrupted Constitutional Rule: Revisiting The Agenda for Reforms.”
The Supreme Court judge noted that the need for constitutional amendments was noticed shortly after the 1992 Constitution came into effect upon realising that some of the policy choices made in the document were not coherent.
Thatled to its amendment in 1996, less than half a decade after its birth, he added.
Justice Pwamang, said after 30 years of its implementation, it was only right that the Constitution was reviewed and the necessary reforms made to meet the changes of the time, adding that considerable attention must, therefore, be paid to the torrents of the recent calls for amendment of the Constitution.
“As at the time the 1996 amendment was made, the Constitution had not lived that long but there was political will, some important changes were quickly made and I believe those changes enabled the Constitution to deal with challenges that would still have been with us today if they had not been tackled then,” he explained.
“Not only must the calls for amendment be given significant primacy, but necessary steps must be taken towards implementing constitutional reform,” he added.
In 2010, Government established the CRC under the chairmanship of Professor Albert Kodzo Fiadjoe, to solicit from Ghanaians, their views on the operation of the 1992 Constitution, particularly its strengths and weaknesses.
It was to also articulate the concerns of the people on amendments that may be required for a comprehensive review of the Constitution, and to make recommendations to the Government for consideration and provide a draft bill for possible amendments to the Constitution.
In June 2012, the Government issued a whitepaper on the Report of the CRC, in which it accepted most of the recommendations.
Subsequently, a five-member Constitution Review Implementation Committee was set up by the Government to drive the implementation of the recommended amendments in accordance with Chapter 25 of the Constitution.
However, more than a decade after the Commission presented its report and recommendations to Government, It was yet to implement them.
Justice Pwamang, however, rejected calls for a total overhaul of the Constitution, saying despite the shortcomings, it remained a document, at least in human rights provision.
“We should not underrate the thinking that informed our constitutional structure which, if it has done nothing at all for us, it has enabled us to keep together as one nation without military intervention for thirty years so far,” he said.
Ms Kathleen Addy, Acting Chairperson of NCCE, urged Ghanaians to ignore persons and groups whose actions sought to undermine the Constitution.
“We must fearlessly and unequivocally reject the purveyors of chaos, who advocate for the disorderly overthrow of the constitution,” she said.