THE KROFROM INCIDENT CALLS FOR URGENT NEED FOR AN INEPENDENT POLICE COMPLAINT AUTHORITY….
Conflicting reports about the death of a 22 year old man, Osei Tawiah, allegedly at the hands of the Police brings to the fore the urgent need for the Government of Ghana to establish an independent civilian Police complaint commission (ICPCC) to investigate such occurrences.
Since 2005,(andin a 2007 publication “The Police, the People and the Politics: Police Accountability in Ghana”) the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Africa Office has been calling for the establishment of an independent body to investigate complaints against the Police. This call was finally re-iterated by Police Administration in March 2014 by the then IGP Mr. Alhassan. As part of a launch to begin a process to rebuild the image of the Ghana Police Service, Mr Alhassan indicated that one weakness to police efficiency is the “lack of a civilian oversight mechanism i.e. independent civilian complaint review.
Although steps were taken to ensure the establishment of this body, two years down the line the status of this initiative is not clear. Information available to CHRI indicates that after a memo was presented to Cabinet by the Ministry of Interior, the former referred the issue to the Police Council and that is where the trail ends. The question is “are we to take it that after the exit of Mr. Alhassan and the then Minister Mr. Mark Woyongo, the ICPCCis no longer relevant? The recent controversy surrounding the death of Osei Tawia and the posturing of the Ashanti Regional Police Commander COP Kofi Boakye indicates that an independent body is needed as a matter of urgency.
According to media reports, based on eye witness account, the victim was picked up by armed Police men who accused him of being an armed robbery suspect, and proceeded to brutalize him. They allegedly hit him with the butts of their guns, beat him up, and shocked him with teasers until he died. An autopsy facilitated by the police points to death by natural causes. The family and the residents of Krofrom disagree with the report that clears the police of any wrong doing. The resulting is that residents of Krofrom went on a rampage.
The response of both the community and the Regional Police Command (after the rampage) leaves a lot to be desired and buttresses the call CHRI has been making year after year since 2005. It is obvious there is more to this issue than what the public is being told and this mystery can only be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties when an independent investigation is conducted. This is especially important when reports of a number of such deaths allegedly at the hands of the police, investigated by PIPS are kept as closely guarded secrets although outcomes of such investigations are of high
public interest.The GPS deems these reports paid for by the tax payer as their property which can only be made public if the IGP deems it necessary.
CHRI is of the view that in as going on rampage is not the way to go, and the police need to keep order, in a situation where the alleged use of brute forceby police officials is purported to have caused the problem in the first place, one would have thought the Regional Commander would have been more circumspect than to go about threatening aggrieved residents who have lost someone with force. It is a fact that the Police is allowed to use force however when legitimate power is used illegitimately it becomes a crime. Freedom of association, freedom of movement and freedom of expression are all constitutionally guaranteed rights and the police must be careful how they try to curtail those in situations of this nature. Democratic policing and public order is based primarily on the rule of law, intelligence gathering and engagement, not brute force or bullying. In a democracy the “how” of keeping public order counts as much as keeping that order. The Police should not paint a picture of “them against us” through their attitude and utterances.
Therefore to promote peace and ensure that the family of Osei Tawiah and residents of Krofrom do not feel short changed CHRI calls on CHRAJ to investigate the incident.
We call on the Police Council, the Ministry of Interior and the Government of Ghana to inform Ghanaians on the status of the independent civilian police complaint body and as a matter of urgency speed up the process of setting it up.
We also call on the IGP to make public reports of investigations conducted by PIPS on similar incidents to build confidence in the work of PIPS and by extension the GPS in relation to investigating their own.
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Africa Office, Accra, Ghana
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