President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has communicated to Parliament that, while he is in favor of the provisions outlined in the Criminal Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2022 (commonly known as the Witchcraft Bill) and the Armed Forces (Amendment) Bill, 2023, he is constrained from giving his assent due to constitutional concerns.
The President cited constitutional concerns, pointing out that the formulation of these bills contradicts the provisions outlined in Article 108 of the 1992 Ghana Constitution, compelling him to withhold his approval.
“After thorough consideration in the light of constitutional issues, I’m unable to assent to these bills,” President Akufo-Addo stated in a letter he sent to Parliament.
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban S.K. Bagbin read the letter in the House on Monday, December 4, 2023.
Speaker Bagbin explained on the floor of the House that during a conversation between him and the President last week, the president raised specific constitutional concerns.
“I raised specific constitutional concerns regarding the bills related to Article 108 particularly the nature of these bills which were introduced to Parliament as private member’s bill rather than being presented by or on my [President] behalf.”
Article 108 of the 1992 constitution states: “Parliament shall not, unless the bill is introduced or the motion is introduced by, or on behalf of, the President -“
“The content of these bills have my support but we need to ensure that they are enacted in line with established constitutional and legislative process,” President Akufo-Addo’s letter to Parliament stated.
The letter said the concerns raised were significant and have profound implications for the constitutional integrity of “this Legislative action.”
“Any legislation we pass must be in complete alignment with the provision of our constitution.
“I intend to have the bill reintroduced to Parliament on my behalf in due course,” the letter said.
The Criminal Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which is now popularly referred to as the Witchcraft Bill, explicitly criminalises the practice of witchcraft accusation and proscribes the declaration, accusation, naming or labeling of another person as a witch, and its related matters.
The object of the bill is to amend the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), to prohibit the practice by any person as a witch doctor or witch finder.