The Supreme Court will on April 10, 2024, determine the constitutionality of a directive by the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) prohibiting artistes and well known personalities [celebrities] from being used for alcoholic advertisements.
A seven-member panel of the apex court, presided over by the Chief Justice, Justice Gertrude Sackey Torkornoo, fixed the date on Wednesday [Jan 17, 2024] after the parties filed their memorandum of issues.
Per the rules of the court, the court can adopt the memorandum of issues filed by the parties or set out its own issues which will be determined by the court to adjudicate on the matter.
The case was filed by Mark Darlington Osae, Manager of Hiplife artistes – Reggie ‘N’ Bollie, and Skrewfaze.
It is the case of the plaintiff that the guideline by the FDA is unconstitutional as it violated the right against discrimination as guaranteed by Article 17 of the 1992 Constitution.
Article 17(1) of the Constitution stipulates that all persons shall be equal before the law, while Article 17(2) states that “a person shall not be discriminated on grounds of gender, race, colour , ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status”.
Guideline 3.2.10 of Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods was published by the FDA on February 1, 2016.
It states that “No well-known personality or professional shall be used in alcoholic beverage advertising”.
The FDA contended that the guideline was necessary to stop minors being hooked to alcohol due to the influence of celebrities.
According to the FDA, the ban was in adherence with a policy by the World Health Organisation( WHO), and also part of efforts to protect children and young ones from being lured into alcoholism.
The regulatory body explained that research had revealed an increase in alcoholism and alcohol-related diseases among children, a vulnerable group.
However, the ban by the FDA elicited strong responses from the entertainment industry, with many musicians and celebrities condemning it.
Hiplife artiste, Denning Edem Hotor, aka Edem, said the ban will deprive celebrities of one of their main sources of income.
“It is pointless to say that because we are celebrities, we should not endorse an alcoholic product. The companies have stated that the drink is for people above 18 years so how is the celebrity influencing underage people? They should kindly allow us to stay in business because the shows are not a lot,” he said.
In 2020, another artiste, Charles Nii Armah Mensah [Shatta Wale], called on musicians in Ghana to join him on a street protest against the Food and Drug Authority’s (FDA) ban on artistes not to advertise alcoholic products.
Sarkodie storms Supreme Court to fight FDA Suit
In November 2023, Mr Osae, who is also the Chairman and Co-Founder of Ghana Music Alliance, dragged the FDA and the Attorney General to the apex court, accusing them of violating the fundamental human rights of celebrities.
He is seeking a declaration that “on a true and proper interpretation of Article 17(1) and (2) which guarantee equality before the law and
prohibits discrimination against persons on grounds of social or economic status, occupation, among others, Guideline 3.2.10 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods published by the 1st Defendant on 1st February 2016 which provides that “No well-known personality or professional shall be used in alcoholic beverage advertising” is discriminatory, inconsistent with and in contravention of articles 17(1) and 17
(2) of the 1992 Constitution, and thus unconstitutional.
He is also asking the apex court for a declaration “that on a true and proper interpretation of Article 17(1) and (2), Guideline 3.2.10 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods published by the 1st Defendant on 1st February 2016 which prohibits well known personalities and professionals from advertising alcoholic products is inconsistent with and in contravention of articles 17(1) and 17 (2) of the 1992 Constitution which guarantee equality before the law and prohibits discrimination against persons on grounds of social or economic status, occupation amongst others and consequently null, void and unenforceable.”
Again ,he is seeking an order from the Supreme Court, “order striking down Guideline 3.2.10 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of foods published by the 1st Defendant on 1st February 2016 as being inconsistent with and in contravention of the letter and spirit of the 1992 Constitution and as such a nullity”
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