Civil Society Coalition advocating for the establishment of an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) have produced a draft legal framework for the proposed Commission.
Coalition, led by the Common Wealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) told a press conference in Accra that, “The Coalition is happy to report that it has been able to produce a draft legal framework for the IPCC which has been shared with some of the stakeholders. The Coalition has received inputs from some of the stakeholders, and has improved the draft with the recommendations.”
The Coalition however notes with some regret that it has not been able to engage with the Ministry of Interior in these latest initiatives, despite several efforts and attempts to brief the Ministry and to get their inputs.
The group noted that, while it recognises that other officials of the Ministry have been forthcoming and supportive, it is important that the executive and political head of the Ministry, in the person of the Honourable Minister, be seen to be playing a more active role in championing this cause, commenced by his predecessor.
It added, “It must be borne in mind that as the line Minister responsible for the Police, he would have to superintend the presentation of the legislative proposals to Cabinet and Parliament. His input at this stage is therefore important. The Coalition can confidently say that all stakeholders are agreed that the IPCC must be established.”
The press conference was put together by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) Africa Office and its partners to update the media and the general public on the progress made so far in the advocacy towards the establishment of an IPCC for Ghana.
Addressing journalists, the Head of Africa Office of CHRI, Ms Mina Mensah, observed that the Ministry of Interior in spite of it internal and external accountability mechanisms to regulate the conduct of the Service and its personnel, there are still lapses, especially in their dealings with civilians. Thus the police has not been professional and accountable.
Ms Mensah said when the idea of strengthening the accountability mechanisms with an independent civilian framework was mooted, the Police Service was not averse to the recommendation. The CHRI also found support from its civil society partners and CHRAJ to champion this call.
According to her there was however a lull with regards to operationalizing the idea, although CHRI and its partners kept highlighting worrying cases of police misconduct, brutality and unprofessionalism and persistently called upon the Service to act expeditiously on such cases.
She noted, “The Police Service itself, in the search for a true democratic and accountable policing, joined Civil Society Organizations to call for the establishment of an independent civilian oversight body that will take charge of public complaints against the police.”
She recalled that In March 2014, the Ghana Police Service itself corroborated the calls by civil society organisations (CSOs) for the establishment of the IPCC. This followed the announcement by the then IGP Mr.Mohammed Alhassan, that the Service had proposed to the Ministry of Interior, that an IPCC be established for Ghana to deal with complaints by the public against the police for misconduct.
She said with such a call from the IGP, CHRI was emboldened and intensified its activities to ensure the realization of the dream.
For her and the coalition, this moment is also opportune in that the IGP has launched his transformational agenda for the Service, lamenting that “this laudable initiative is however being blighted by the incessant and persistence of cases of police brutalities.”
She pointed out that the Coalition has been able to catalogue a number of cases from media reports some dating as far back as 2011, in which innocent civilians have been killed, maimed or treated with disdain by some police officers; most of which the Service is yet to respond or seen to be responding to.
Ms Mensah emphsasized that each unresolved case does not only hurt the individual victims and/or their families but also makes the establishment of an IPCC ever more necessary.”
The Coalition called upon the Minister for Interior to respond to the Coalition and engage with it; as well as work with the Attorney-General’s Office and CSOs to finalize the draft legal framework into the necessary Cabinet Memorandum for the necessary approval and direction for a draft Bill on the IPCC.
It further called on the Ghana Police Service to update the general public on the status of pending cases of police brutality and where cases have been concluded, inform the general public about sanctions and other consequences for offending officers.
By Mohammed Suleman