Court is only avenue to determine whether Rastafarianism is a religion or not – Lawyer

For the court to make any meaningful headway in bringing a finality to the standoff between authorities of the Achimota School and the parents of the two senior High School students who were denied admission because of their dreadlocks, a private legal practitioner has indicated the court will first determine if the Rastafarianism is a religion or an association.

Authorities at the Achimota School last week refused the two children admission unless they cut their dreadlocks because the school’s rules did not permit that.

The Ghana Education Service, GES had in an earlier statement directed the Headmistress of the Achimota School to admit the students.

“We have asked her [headmistress] to admit the students. The student is a Rastafarian and if there is evidence to show that he is Rastafarian, all that he needs to do is to tie the hair neatly,” the Director-General of the GES, Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa told reporters.

Teacher Unions including the National Association of Graduate Teachers, NAGRAT on Sunday called the bluff of the GES and indicated the GES cannot order Achimota School to admit the students.

The two students were denied access to the school for the second time when on Monday they visited the school.

Speaking to Alfred Ocansey on the 3FM Sunrise Morning Show, Private Legal Practitioner Christian Malm -Hesse says

“Somebody who puts on dreadlocks the presumption is that he’s either Rastafarian or for fashion. If you greet a person and the person says [I am a Rastafarian] the question now is do I make you cut all or defy some of the beliefs that are inherent in your religion in order to satisfy the school rules by cutting your hair?  All these are subjects for the court to decide that is why we must test the law”.

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“The best way to have this sorted out is through the court. We need a declaration to uphold that human right of article 17 of the 1992 constitution and when that is done it will no longer be a prerogative of the Director General as against another or the prerogative of a head teacher sitting in his arm chair in a particular school. It will be well christened in the laws of the land. If you read article 17 it says all persons shall be equal and nobody will be discriminated upon his religion, creed, sex etc and Rastafarian was considered as a religion.”

By Richard Bright Addo||Ghana