Supreme Court dismisses suit against US-Ghana military agreement

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The Supreme Court has in a unanimous decision dismissed a consolidated suit filed by Brogya Gyenfi, the Ashanti Regional Youth Organizer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and one Emmanuel Koti challenging government’s decision to sign the United States – Ghana Military Agreement.

The seven-member panel chairmen by Chief Justice Anin Yeboah said the full reasons of the court would be ready on May 20, 2020.

Subject matter

It would be recalled that, in the year 2018, the NDC Ashanti Regional Youth Organizer sued the government over its defence cooperation with the United States.

The applicant is praying the court to, among other things, “set aside” the agreement on the grounds that it was “not in the national interest of Ghana, and contravenes articles (1 (2), 2, 11, 33, 125, 135, 140, 75 and 73 of the 1992 constitution.”

Mr Gyenfi is also asking for “ a declaration that the word ‘ratify’ used within the provisions of Article 75 of the 1992 constitution is a term of art which has a true meaning of incorporating international law and treaties into the domestic legal system of the Republic of Ghana and not prior approval or approval.”

He is further seeking a declaration that the “ratification by Parliament of the supposed agreement between Ghana and the Government of United States of America on Defence Cooperation, the Status of United States Forces, and Access to and use of agreed facilities and areas in the Republic of Ghana (hereinafter referred to as Defence Co-operation Agreement) on March 24, 2018, when the supposed agreement had not been executed by the President or person authorized by the President as provided for by Article 75 of the 1992 constitution, is contrary to the said Article 75 of the 1992 constitution and same is null and void.”

The defendants in the matter are Gloria Akuffo, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, and Dominic Nitiwul, Minister of Defence.

The suit came days after Parliament ratified the pact despite stiff opposition from the Minority, who had staged a walkout during the debate in Parliament whilst the Majority approved the pact.

Background

Following the ratification of the agreement, US troops will, among other things, be exempted from paying taxes on equipment that is brought to Ghana as well as use Ghana’s radio spectrum for free.

Government said it was only respecting the existing Status of Forces Agreement with the US signed since 1998 and reviewed in 2015, under the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration.

But the Minority contended that the agreement, as it existed in the past, did not have the same clauses like the current one that gives the US unlimited access to Ghana’s military facilities.

The United State Embassy in Ghana explained that it was only planning joint security exercises with Ghana, and that would require that US military personnel would be allowed access to Ghana’s military facilities and that they were not going to build a military base.

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