Lead lawyer for the two Rastafarians said to have been denied admission into Achimota School because of their hair, Ras Wayo Ghanamannti has described the judgment delivered by Justice Gifty Adjei Addo of the Human Rights Court as one that has established recognition in the history of Ghana as far as the fundamental human rights enshrined in chapter five of the Constitution is concerned.
The court ruled in favour of the two Rastafarians stating that the stakeholders involved, the Attorney General and the GES did not convince it on the compelling reasons why the rights of the two boys must be infringed upon.
She said to maintain that a person must cut their dreadlocks which is the manifestation of their religion before they are admitted into a school is a breach of the Constitution.
Justice Agyei Addo held that Fundamental human rights are not absolute and can be limited by statutes and policies but this must be juxtaposed against the public interest.
Justice Gifty Agyei Addo in her judgement said that the respondents do not dispute the fact that the rules of the school are made by the Board of Governors of the school but the implementation of these rules must be in conformity with the rules of the Ghana Education Service and the 1992 Constitution.
What has the wearing of dreadlocks which is the manifestation of one’s religious rights got to do with upholding discipline in the school? She said to maintain that a person must cut their dreadlocks which is the manifestation of their religion before they are admitted into the school is in contravention with the 1992 Constitution.
She rejected the argument of the respondents that upholding the reliefs of the applicant will discriminate against other students who abide by the rules of the school. She pointed out that Fundamental human rights are not absolute and can be limited by statutes and policies but this must be with the public interest as in this case. The ultimate aim of the rules is to enhance discipline and academic excellence.
She asked What would be the effect on the school community if the applicant is allowed to keep their dreadlocks? She also asked how keeping low hair enhances hygiene in the school has not been impressed on the court and how the applicant keeping his dreadlocks would affect his health and the health of other students has also not been impressed on the court.
The ultimate aim of the rules of the school is omnibus and she is to see the disadvantage to the school community in allowing the applicant to keep the dreadlocks. Ordering the applicant to cut his dreadlocks which is the manifestation of his religion which is Rastafarianism and his culture discriminates against his fundamental human rights and this would not be countenanced by the court.
She said failure and refusal by the school to admit the applicant because of the dreadlocks which is the manifestation of his religion is a violation of their right to education. The order directed at the applicant to step aside during the registration exercise because of their dreadlocks is breach of his dignity and no rightful basis has been provided by the school to interfere with the religious rights of the applicant.
Lawyer Ghanamannti shared his sentiments with the media after court proceedings.
Mother of Tyrone Marguy said that she believes in the rule of law therefore nobody should take the law into her hands but seek the court for justice whenever one wants to fight for his or her rights.
The court has however ordered the Achimota School to admit the applicant to continue their education.
Story filed by Yvonne Asare Offei