The High Court in Accra has ordered the Electoral Commission (EC) is to immediately operationalize Ghana’s laws allowing citizens resident abroad to take part in national elections starting from the General Elections 2020.
The EC was also given 12 months to ensure the relevant legal instrument is put in place to ensure the order is carried out, Accra-based radio station Joy FM reported.
It said the High Court upheld arguments by 5 Ghanaians based abroad that the EC had caused an infringement of their human rights by failing to implement the law.
Passed into law in 2006, the Representation of People Amendment Act (ROPAA) was to allow citizens, including dual nationals, to be registered abroad to vote, but the EC had failed to operationalize the law.
The applicants – Kofi A. Boateng, Nellie Kemevor, Obed Danquah, Christiana Sillim and Agyenim Boateng – all residing in New York State and Kentucky in the USA, and are citizens by birth, dual citizenship or both.
They said the International Electoral Knowledge Network reported that there were 115 countries in the world, including 28 in Africa, that had enabling laws for overseas voting, with Ghana singled out as a case of a country that had passed such a law but had not implemented it.
They also contended that it was discriminatory to allow only Ghanaians studying abroad and staff of Ghana’s Mission/Embassies abroad to be registered and vote from abroad.
Lawyers for the EC argued that it had plans to implement the law and should not be compelled to do so.
The judge, Anthony Yeboah, said it was outrageous and unreasonable for the EC to justify delay in implementing the law by stating challenges such as funds as the reason.