Government urged to establish police ombudsman to curb brutalities in Ghana

A Ghanaian Social Activist based in the United Kingdom, Mr. Eric Amofa has urged Government to consider establishing an Independent Police Ombudsman office to properly deal with the high level of recklessness and unprofessional conduct of the police in managing public order.

He believed that the Independent Police Ombudsman office would help to bring discipline or sanity in the service and also reduce or eliminate the frequent brutalities, torture and killing of innocent civilians by the police.

In Ghana, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) was established to replace the office of the Ombudsman (created by the Ombudsman Act of 1970). CHRAJ’s mandate is contained in Articles 218 (a), (b) of the 1992 Constitution and Section 7 (1) (a), (b) of Act 456 to investigate complaints concerning injustice and unfair treatment of any person by a public officer and to: “investigate complaints concerning the functioning of the Public Services Commission, the administrative organs of the State, the Armed Forces, the Police Service and the Prison Service among others.

According to Mr. Amofa, in the last few decades, Ghana as a democratic nation had witnessed an unconceivable number of brutalities against innocent civilians and journalists by the personnel of the Ghana Police Service, but very little or no action is taken by CHRAJ.

He said that the Police in Ghana could regain their lost public confidence and trust, if that special unit was set up to handle misconducts and abuses by the Police without necessary depending on the ineffectiveness of CHRAJ.
Even though the Police are specially trained to primarily protect human lives and properties, their conduct most of the times leave much to be desired.

“The Personnel of the Ghana Police Service have inarguably gained notoriety in maiming, brutalizing, torturing, abusing, and killing innocent civilians at the least opportunity. They easily shoot and kill thieves, protesters, and robbers without applying any cautiousness. The police brutalities have gone way beyond rooftops as their top officials who are supposed to crack the whip also turn to always justify the actions. They go every length to incriminate their victims by fabricating and providing false evidences to vindicate themselves or justify their ill-actions”.

He fumed that the Police had always gone unpunished because they as perpetrators of abuses or crime end up becoming adjudicators of the same.

Track Records of Police in Ghana

Mr Amofa recounted that aside the recent Madina-Adentan highway incident where protesters were beaten; and rubber bullets, teargas and live bullets were fired by the Police to wound a number of people, the Rambo style approach of the Police has also led to several injuries to civilians in Ghana.

“On May 9th 2001, a serious disaster occurred in the Accra sports stadium which claimed the lives of 127 football funs after the police fired several tear gases to as it were disperse angry funs during a match between Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak.

17 years after the incident, not a single personnel of the Police Service has been held responsible for the disaster”.

Mr Amofa further recalled that in September 2015, members of a pressure group called “Let My Vote Count Alliance” were beaten and others arrested by the Police for allegedly using unapproved routes in their peaceful protest to demand a new electoral roll. The police fired tear gases and brutalised protesters with horse whips in attempts to cow them into submission. This resulted in serious injuries among protestors including the loss of eye of one protestor.

He said that a civilian in Juaso Asante Akyem (Victor Sulemana) was short in the thigh by the police in the area in 2007 with no apparent reason but till now no compensation has been paid after Court ruled that compensation be paid to him accordingly.
In July 2018, a uniform and gun wielding Police man was captured in a video assaulting a woman and her toddler at a banking hall.

The police officer No. 50260 Lance Corporal Godzi Frederick Amanor subjected the woman, Patience Osafo to physical abuse after she had gone to the banking hall to withdraw her deposit of GHC250.00 but was refused access.

In June 2018, Ama Agyemang, 22, a native of Abrepo was sent to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital when she was near her death after she was severely assaulted by the Sofoline Police in Kumasi.
The Police told doctors that the victim who was in their (police) custody was rushed to the hospital because she attempted to commit suicide.

But, doctors’ examination later revealed that Ama was brutalized severally by the police. The victim after gaining consciousness narrated how severely she was tortured by the police in the cells. “Even when I told them I was one month pregnant they didn’t stop beating me,” she narrated. The 22 year old lady was arrested for fighting her mother over a mobile phone. The above examples are just a few of the numerous cases of brutalities perpetrated by the Police against civilians.

Police Attacks on Journalists

February 23, 2018 –a Presenter of A1 Radio in Bolgatanga, Christopher Kevin Asima, was attacked by police in the Upper East Region led by ASP Eric Van Koffie, Commander of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Unit while he was covering a fire outbreak incident.

A freelance journalist, Kendrick Ofei was brutally assaulted by soldiers during the celebration of Ghana’s 60th Independence Day at the Independence Square in Accra and till date no one is held responsible.

On March 27, 2018, a Multimedia group journalist, Latif Iddrisu, was brutally assaulted to near death at the Ghana Police Service headquarters by police personnel for merely asking them questions when a Deputy General Secretary of Ghana’s main opposition party, NDC, Koku Anyidoho, was being held on treason charges.

Mr. Aseda Acheampong, journalist working with Kessben Fm in Kumasi was on the 11th April 2018 beaten by the Abuakwa police for reporting an incident between a trotro driver and the police.

In February 2015, two Multimedia journalists, Matilda Wemegah and Cameraman David MacCarthy were assaulted by the Police at Senchi in the Easter Region after they tried to film a scuffle between a policeman and a trailer driver on the Senchi ferry. The journalists had gone to the Asougyaman district to do one of their usual community reports.

Mr. Eric Amofa thus described it as crucial for the Government to create the ombudsman service to independently handle all complaint of human rights violations and misconducts of the police in their engagement with the citizenry.

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