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15.03.2007 General News

Who polices the police?

By myjoyonline
Who polices the police?

Eight police officers have been dismissed from the Ghana Police Service since the beginning of this year for various acts of misconduct.

Last year 65 officers were also dismissed after facing an administrative tribunal, the Ghana Police has said.

Despite the many complaints that reach the internal police watch dog, the Police Intelligence and Professional Standards Unit, some cases of police brutality and abuse of power go unreported in Ghana.

One such case left Joseph Nyabire, a former security guard at Billy Jane, a spot at Nungua near Accra in rough shape in March of last year. Six police officers beat him and held him in a cell for 14 hours without informing him of the reason, he has said.

He explained that a fight had broken out at his place of work and the police wanted him to report to the police station for questioning.

When he refused to leave his duties, he was assaulted. "They were hitting me with their guns…on my legs, my arms, just to bring me down and then push me into the car," he said. "I got pissed off and I decided to fight back."

Mr Nyabire said he thinks this kind of abuse of power is very common within the police force.

"If they wear the black (uniform) and they have the force to take you anywhere they have a gun, they have the force to take you anywhere they want and I think it's wrong," he said.

According to him, "if you go to arrest someone the person has a right to explain himself or give a time that he can be available. I think most of the Ghanaian police don't do that."

On International Day against Police Brutality, the Ghana Police Services says even though there is a common perception that police abuse their authority, there has been an improvement in accountability.

"The police is not ready to shield anybody who commits a crime because discipline if the hallmark to any policing system," said Deputy Superintendent Kwesi Ofori, acting director of public affairs for the GPS.

This date marks ten years since two children aged 11 and 12 were beaten by police in Switzerland. Since then, March 15 has been designated as a day to recognize the importance of holding police accountable world wide.

Since the establishment of PIPS, formerly called the Special Police Command in the 1990s, DSP Ofori said police officers in Ghana are becoming more aware of the consequences of their actions.

"We've really achieved a lot," he said. "As a human institution, we will not be perfect. But we stand tall." He also said although many Ghanaians complain about the police service, other police around West Africa look to it as an example.

Source: The Statesman

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