Insulting Parliament Bad – ACEPA

The public must desist from making derogatory remarks against parliament, Dr Rashid Draman, the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA), has cautioned.

He advised the populace to “mind your language” and “avoid insults” even when an individual disagrees with any action of parliament.

“We have to respect the office, it is just not about those sitting there…” he told Valentina Ofori-Afriyie on Class FM’s 505 on Thursday, July 13.

His comments come in the wake of a possible contempt of parliament charge against Sydney Casely-Hayford, a member of pressure group OccupyGhana, who is alleged to have made derogatory remarks about the legislature.

Dr Draman explained that Mr Casely-Hayford would have to produce evidence that made him make such comments if he is faced with such a charge.

He advised critics to be mindful when passing public comments.

Kumbungu MP Ras Mubarak, who brought the said contemptuous comments to the attention of the House on Thursday July 13, said the comments by Mr Casely-Hayford “are downright offensive, outrightly benighted, and can only be coming from a man who seems discombobulated from the world he inhabits”.

Mr Mubarak told parliament that Mr Casely-Hayford had said the following about current and past MPs:

(1) “These people are sitting there, spending money like crazy, making stupid decisions and passing stupid laws...”

(2) “All they think of is ‘let's pass this thing quickly, let's go to Senchi Royal, let's go and sit there and chill and come back…’"

(3) “They don't read the papers that they are given, they don't think through what the challenges are...”

(4) “The first thing I will do if I had the opportunity is to break down parliament…”

The MP said “as much as we must encourage free speech we mustn't allow people to make sweeping comments, impugn reputations, and affront the dignity of parliament”.

For him, “what Sydney has done is to indict all of us here in the current parliament and those before us”.

“He is indicting the current Speaker, current President, former President, and the many others whose time in parliament was spent pushing for progressive legislation. He's inciting hatred and vandalism when he talks about breaking down parliament,” he added.