It is easy to understand how important laws are if you imagine a society struggling to function without them. There is no way for one legal system to cover every situation because individuals and circumstances are unique. Hence, knowing the laws of the environment in which one resides – Global, national or local – is as critical as the enforcement of same.
This is why I firmly believe critical attention must be dedicated to educating and creating awareness on laws, rights and responsibilities of the people, because that would effectively reduce crime rate in Ghana. The gains of our democracy cannot be short-changed.
Law serves as a guide-post for standards of acceptable behavior in society. Some activities, for instance, are crimes because society, through a legislative body, has determined that it will not tolerate certain behaviors that injure or damage persons or their property. Thus, laws, when enforced, provide order consistent with society’s guidelines; and serve as tools for development not for destruction.
However, to be able to ensure compliance with rules and regulations, one must generally understand the rights, responsibilities, obligations and also the limitations to behavior under the Law. That is, the kind of actions that are prohibited by the society.
Therefore, knowledge and understanding of the Law is very critical to ensuring compliance.
It is trite law that ignorance of the Law is not an excuse. It follows that, where the citizens are genuinely ignorant, compliance with Law would be lacking and lead to insecurity and disorder – anarchy!
Our country, Ghana, has recently recorded a surge in daylight robberies across the country. These occurrences are overwhelming and has plunged the entire nation into a state of insecurity. The security agencies have tried to contain the surge, but the problem persists. On top of the violent robberies threats from terrorists keep recurring.
The sad reality remains that, the State Agency mandated to lead public education on these matters is very dormant: The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) is an independent, non-partisan governance institution set up under Article 231 of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana and the National Commission for Civic Education Act, 1993, Act 452.
The Commission works to promote and sustain democracy and inculcate in the Ghanaian citizenry, the awareness of their rights and obligations, through civic education. Yet, the NCCE is unable to deliver on its mandate of educating the Ghanaian public on civic issues. Their failure has been attributed largely to severe financial and logistical challenges.
For emphasis, I strongly believe notwithstanding the financial constraints, the NCCE must pay critical attention to educating and creating awareness on laws, rights and responsibilities of the people. This intervention will go a long way to reduce crimes and consolidate our three decade old democracy.
I propose, therefore, that empowering and retooling the NCCE would positively boost the work of the institution and transform its operations to be both pre-emptive and responsive in the wake of the insecurity and lawlessness that has engulfed Ghana.
In support of the NCCE and our common national development agenda, I have challenged my colleagues at the Ghana School of Law, especially, Legon Campus to lead this cause of educating the masses on the existence of the Laws of Ghana, how they operate and how they ensure Law and order in the Country. As Lawyers-to-be our impact must be felt by the Ghanaian society even before we are called to the Bar. Besides, sustenance of the Legal profession thrives on compliance to rules and Laws.
Finally, I propose as a social responsibility, the Ghana School of Law Students Representative Council (SRC) must spearhead and collaborate with Government, stakeholders and the NCCE to robustly transform public education on Civic issues, rights and freedoms, modern laws and their operations to ensure proper social cohesion. This, would promote awareness, deepen respect for rule of law and reduce the spate of crime our Ghanaian society.
By Shallina Adu Mesu
The writer is SHALLINA ADU MESU, a Part One Professional Law Course Student and an Aspirant for VICE PRESIDENT of Ghana School of Law, Legon Campus.