General News of Wednesday, 9 May 2012Source: GNA The Regional Coordinator of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Ms Mina Mensah, has called for a face lift in the Ghana Police Service to conform to democratic reforms.
“As we seek to deepen democracy in this country, the face of policing as we know needs to change to conform to democratic principles, even though the service has come a long way, there is still much to be done,” she said.
She said there should be reforms in the service in the area of arrest and detention, since it does conform to democratic principles.
Ms Mensah was speaking at a day’s workshop on Community Based Organisations on the theme: “Promoting Police Accountability through Public Awareness on the Rights of Arrested Persons in Ghana,” in Takoradi in the Western Region.
The workshop sought to empower and inform Community Based Organisations how to educate their constituents to defend their rights and increase local advocacy for police reform that would lead to democratic policing.
She said, though the police are vested with certain powers by law to discharge certain defined responsibilities, it is required of them to account for their transgressions.
“ Unfortunately, in our part of the world, many people do not know their rights neither are they conversant with what is required of the police, thus many problems are created when police are performing their duties…” she explained.
Speaking on the topic: “The Rights of Arrested Persons in Ghana,” Chief Superintendent of Police John Asare Naami, Commander of the Railways Ports and Harbour Unit of the police service said, the body exist to facilitate crime prevention and detection, apprehension and prosecution of offenders to the expectation of stakeholders for maximum protection, safety security and peace in the society.
Superintendent Naami said the police are there to protect human dignity and would maintain and uphold the rights of all persons.
“Police officers are therefore to behave in a trustworthy manner and avoid conduct what might compromise their integrity and thus undermine public confidence in the service,” he said.
He explained that a police officer may arrest without warrant any person who commits an offence in his presence, has in possession articles intended to be used in unlawful entry and does not give reasonable excuse for their possession.
He said: “While performing such duty, any action taken by the police has considerable implications on the basic rights and liberties of persons concern; that is right to personal liberty, equal treatment before the law, freedom from torture and innocent until proven guilty among others.”
He said constitutional democratic order places generally a measured legal limitation and restraint on the hands of the police in ensuring social order, however this restriction poses a dilemma in protecting the rights and liberties of the individual as against maintaining peace and public order.**