The wave of instant justice, a recent pattern of mob administration of torture and lynching of suspected criminals in Ghana, took centre stage yesterday at an international conference of security chiefs from Africa and the Middle East.
At the closing session of the conference, organised in Accra by the American Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Ghana's Minister of National Security, Mr Francis Poku, highlighted the danger posed by the practice and warned of its likely consequences for the country's legal process.
Mr Poku's alarm followed one of the most frightening periods of populist action in Ghana resulting in the brutalisation, killing and sometimes burning of suspected criminals in the country.
Some of those who have been caught in that unfortunate trend include the Administrator of the Goaso Government Hospital, Mr Anthony Yeboah-Boateng, who was murdered in cold blood by a group of young men on suspicion that he was part of a gang involved in a number of murders in the Atronie area of the Brong Ahafo Region.
And last Tuesday, the Daily Graphic carried yet another horrific story of the burning alive of an alleged armed robber at Tanoso on the Kumasi-Techiman Highway.
The minister expressed worry about the trend, which he attributed to growing impatience with the legal process in the country, and called on all law enforcement agencies to tackle it with a sense of urgency.
The three-day conference was designed to foster partnership in the global combat of transnational crime and attracted heads of law enforcement agencies throughout the world.
Mr Poku hailed the role of US institutions in the global combat against crime and recalled the assistance provided Ghana by the FBI which led to the unravelling of the mystery surrounding the killing of women in the 1990s.
On global issues, Mr Poku said there were adequate laws to deal with the various transnational crimes, saying that where legal gaps were discovered, as in money laundering cases, the government endeavoured to initiate the appropriate legislation.
He, therefore, urged the Ghana Police Service to deepen its knowledge and strategies in law enforcement and update its professional skills to deal with the various stages of criminal investigations.
The minister said improvement in the quality of detectives in Ghana would no doubt help to promote peace, stability and good governance.
He urged the participants to endeavour to use all the operational skills they had learnt which should be based on the rule of law and respect for the human rights of their compatriots.
“You have a duty to your regional and international partners to handle sensitive information with the greatest integrity and in a manner which will not compromise investigations into trans-national crime,” Mr Poku stated.
The Executive Director of the National Academy Associates (NAA), Mr Roger L. Trott, said the associates, who were graduates from the FBI Academy, met once a year to share ideas and strategise on how to fight transnational crimes and build personal relationships.
He said corruption and drug trafficking were high on the agenda during the conference and noted that the US had been losing much revenue to corruption which he described as a cancer in society.
Ghana's Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Patrick Kwarteng Acheampong, said there had been much collaboration between the FBI and the police and expressed the hope that the holding of the conference in Ghana would further strengthen the relationship between the two security institutions.
The Director-General of the CID, Mr David Asante-Apeatu, said as crime was changing, there was the need for appropriate laws to address the new trends.
He said Ghana was the first country in West Africa to have hosted the conference and indicated that the knowledge acquired would go a long way to enhance the work of law enforcement agencies.