The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), has out doored a Research Report, detailing the need for Ghana to consider establishing an Independent Police Complaints Commission.
The Report which was launched in Accra on Wednesday gives an overview of the legislative framework and accountability mechanisms of the police service in Ghana, provides models of Independent Police Commission(IPCC) from around the world and made recommendations to inform advocacy and aid stakeholders dialogue to determine the appropriate IPCC model from Ghana.
Titled “Establishing an Independent Police Complaints Body in Ghana, the Report, discusses various argument made to support the need for an IPCC to investigate complaints brought against police officers, as opposed to investigating themselves.
The document recognizes that the practice of the police investigating itself and its members is fraught with a lot of problems. Issues of conflict of interest and in favour of the police, according to the Report, can influence the outcome of the investigations.
Presenting the highlight of the Report, Ms Mina Mensah, Head of the Africa Office, CHRI said the Police have been endowed with powers to protect lives and property and the responsibility to uphold the law by acting independently
Ms Mensah said because of these legally mandated duties, the police inevitably interfere in the lives of the people and this results in disputes and conflicts which leads to complaints.
“Some of these complaints amount to accusations and allegations of criminal conducts leveled against police officers, the very people who have been empowered and entrusted to uphold the law.”
She pointed out that in investigating such complaints, there have been concerns about the independence of bodies and institutions overseeing the process .In most cases, she indicated, the police administration ends up investigating complaints against their own which compromises the independence of the process.
“Since police accountability issues are key to effective policing, building confidence and strengthening the justice system, there is an urgent need for independent investigations oversight of police conduct that culminates in the complaints,” she argued.
As a part of the recommendations, she noted that establishment of IPCC is a collaborative effort among Government, Civil Society Organizations, the Ghana Police Service (GPS) the media and the general public.
“A deliberate effort is required to fully engage all these actors and stakeholders to arrive at an appropriate model for Ghana. This will not only rehabilitate the negative image of the GPS,it will also inure to the benefit of the entire human rights and justice system in Ghana.”
Launching the Report, Justice Emile Short, former Commissioner, Commission on Human Right and Administrative Justice lauded CHRI for the initiative to advocate for the establishment of the IPCC in Ghana.
Justice Short indicated that the police is responsible for protecting the people and there is the need to always recognize the important role they play in the Country’s democratic governance.
According to him, though the Police is doing well in many fronts, there are still some excesses that need to be looked at. In particular, he mentioned the issue of corruption and sometimes accusations on the excessive use of violence on People
He added, that omplaints of these dissipations have not been adequately resolved hence the need for such a Body to cater for these excesses in the Police Service.
On his part, the programmes Officer of STAR- Ghana, Mr Ibrahim Tanko, acknowledged the importance of establishing such a Body, saying “ this is in the right direction “as it provides people the avenue to raise complaints.
Present at the event were represantives from the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Prisons Services, the Ministry of Justices and Attorney General’s Department, Representative of the Chief Justice, Civil Society groups, the media among other interest groups.
By Mohammed Suleman