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Ms Mina Mensah
Ms Mina Mensah

CHRI makes case for establishing Independent Police Complaints Commission

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 

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