A second petition has been presented to President John Mahama, with over 180,000 signatories appealing to him to pardon the convicted Montie 3 contemnors.
Salifu Maase, known on the Montie FM airwaves as ‘Mugabe’, and his two panelists – Ako Gunn and Alistair Nelson – are jailbirds now after the Supreme Court cited them for contempt in a live radio discussion.
The Research and Advocacy Platform (RAP) presented the second petition to the Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah, Thursday. Counsel of the trio had already presented theirs to the presidency.
“The four-month custodial sentence has attracted widespread criticisms for its severity and excessiveness from well-meaning Ghanaians. As an advocacy group, we condemn the utterances of the convicts. We, however, join our numerous compatriots to make an appeal to your good offices to invoke Article 72 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana to pardon the three convicts or remit their sentences,” RAP said in its petition.
It has also appealed to the president to “authorise a comprehensive review of the contempt laws of Ghana”.
Below is RAP’s petition:
PETITION FOR PARDON/ REMISSION OF SENTENCE & FOR REVIEW OF GHANA’S CONTEMPT LAW
We, from the Research and Advocacy Platform (RAP), currently supported by in excess of One Hundred and Eighty Thousand (180,000) signatories, wish to petition your high office to invoke your Prerogative of Mercy under article 72 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana to pardon or remit the sentences of three citizens of this country who were jailed for contempt on July 27, 2016, namely Salifu Masse (a.k.a Mugabe), Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn.
The four-month custodial sentence has attracted widespread criticisms for its severity and excessiveness from well-meaning Ghanaians. As an advocacy group, we condemn the utterances of the convicts. We, however, join our numerous compatriots to make an appeal to your good offices to invoke Article 72 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana to pardon the three convicts or remit their sentences.
As indicated above, it is the considered opinion of the signatories that the four months custodial sentence imposed on the three is excessive and has the potential to severely curtail rights to free speech, which is a fundamental right enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.
Your Excellency, in addition to the above plea on behalf of the three gentlemen, we wish to state that the lack of a Contempt Act in Ghana that clearly states what constitutes contempt and its defined maximum and minimum penalties may have accounted for the harshness of their sentence. The absence of such a codified contempt law, in our view, gives rise to the discretionary application of what constitutes contemptuous offense and its attendant sanctions in our dear Republic.
In a democracy, people should have the right to criticize judges. In our opinion, the power of contempt should be used to uphold the majesty and dignity of the court, only to the extent of enabling it to function effectively. The contempt law in its current form contradicts the above principles. This contradiction is further aggravated by the controversial incarceration of the ‘Montie 3’. The autocratic outlook of Ghana’s contempt laws is traceable to its linkages with the British Colonial Administration, which was itself autocratic. The need for this review is further supported by the views of Fali Nariman, a distinguished constitutional jurist, who opined that the offense of scandalizing the courts remains in a mercurial jurisdiction in which there are no rules and no constraints.
Your Excellency, we wish to respectively use this opportunity to request your high office to authorize the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to, as matter of urgency, enact such an Act or initiate the processes to review our current laws in order to safeguard the Judiciary from abuse, whilst at the same time, protecting the citizens’ rights to free speech as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution. Indeed, it is again our considered view that, it would be in the interest of this country to take such an action, since it would serve to guarantee and preserve the rights of citizens to freely express their opinions on the actions of public officials and state institutions without fear of being jailed for expressing their minds.
As indicated earlier, this would aid in the maintenance of confidence in the administration of justice in this country. Your Excellency, we join the contemnors in pleading for leniency and wish to count on you to deploy your high sense of compassion to offer some reprieve to the three convicts. Yours in the Service of the Nation
Signed: RAZAK ABU, CONVENOR, RAP
Source: Ghana/starrfmonline.com/103.5FM/Kent Mensah