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12.08.2013 Opinion

Dear Ghana Police, Not Every Accused Person Is Tony Montana…Or Ataa Ayi, If Only Ghallywood Had Made The Movie…

By Kweku Zurek
Dear Ghana Police, Not Every Accused Person Is Tony Montana…Or Ataa Ayi, If Only Ghallywood Had Made The Movie…
LISTEN AUG 12, 2013

In the movie Scarface (I think), the lead character Tony Montana played by Al Pacino has a case in court which he will surely do time for, Tony some-how beats the case with the help of a very good lawyer.

It's a Monday afternoon (5th August 2013) around 2pm and I have just got home from a trip where my 'trap didn't catch the bayla' and also I didn't get the '3 points'. I switch on the TV to watch a little early 2000s programming (in 2013) and surf my way to the news on GTV.

In an interview session, a policeman with a name tag (plate) bearing the name YOHUNO has just made a statement along the lines of 'we feel like giving up when accused persons can afford 12 lawyers if they didn't do it then how come they can afford 12 lawyers?'. (Might not be his words exactly but very, very, very close).

I am very shocked at the sound of this and I feel the interviewer should probe a bit more but she doesn't and lets it slide because a lawyer would join them later via a not too clear telephone-line to counter that point. Later on, I google 'police-man yohuno - ghana' and up pops the identity of the police officer; DCOP Christian Tetteh Yohuno, Greater Accra regional Police Commander. The DCOP should have let his PR officer earn his keep but maybe he looks better on TV than the PR guy.

POLL - HOW DO THE GHANA POLICE GET PROMOTIONS?
a. Number of cases solved
b. Party Colour
c. Years in Service
Indeed the constitution under Article 19 (2) c and f guarantees the accused persons' right to innocence until being proven/pleading guilty and also the right to defending himself in court either in person or by a lawyer of his choice (the constitution uses lawyer and not lawyers). In Artcle 32 (1) e and f, an article that deals with the detention of persons under 'Emergency Law' the accused 'shall be afforded every possible facility to consult a lawyer of his own choice' (Still lawyer not lawyers). In f it adds that 'at the hearing of his case, he shall be permitted to appear in person or by a lawyer of his choice (still lawyer not lawyers). As to the 'lawyer and lawyers' bit, it might either be; semantics or the denotation/connotation of the word or its usage that I am not getting but if you want to be a stickler, IT also uses 'HE' and not 'SHE' when referring to accused persons.

WHAT HAPPENED TO BEING INNOCENT UNTIL BEING PROVEN GUILTY BEYOND ALL REASONABLE DOUBT?

The question I want to ask is; 'since when did being able to afford competent legal counsels contribute to making an accused person guilty?' Perhaps the DCOP would like it very much if every accused person couldn't afford counsel and would have to rely on legal aid i.e. the state affording him/her a lawyer (and with my luck he will get the slowest horse in the legal stables in GH).

A LAWYER IS ONLY AS GOOD AS HIS BRIEF.
The DCOP added that he cringes at what is becoming an all too familiar scene where 1 state attorney gets hammered by 12 very competent lawyers of an accused person (Zimmerman anyone? Plus it's very difficult for journos to fit all those names in the story). The DCOP was too quick to lay the blame at the doorstep of the state attorneys, what if the evidence gathered by the Police is not good enough to secure a conviction even if the state attorney was a lawyer from a John Grisham novel.

DCOP Tetteh Yohuno made mention of another situation that had me baffled, but in a different way. He told of a situation where an accused person plead guilty to a criminal charge but the case has still been in court for 3 years. I can't understand why a case where the accused has admitted guilt will last in court for 3 years but I don't find it unbelievable (after-all the wheels of justice grind slowly but still they grind and this is GH).

He added that it feels like the police keep arresting the same 'criminals' over and over again because convictions are never made. I have always been worried about the investigative procedures of the Ghana Police (it's not quite like watching CSI but it's not very easy conducting investigations in Accra, if you like ask the 'crack' American team that were brought to investigate the market fires). As to arresting the same 'criminals' over and over again it can create vigilante cops who will adopt a shoot to kill policy (or in an ideal world a super-hero like The Punisher, who will be cop by day and vigilante at night) which won't be good for any of us because it won't afford us a chance for Lady (or is it Mother, why isn't this sexist?) Justice to prevail.

NOBODY LIKES BEING SNITCHED ON
In order for the police in Ghana to be able to put criminals (who are really guilty) behind bars they need the help of the citizens of the land because like it or not we live with these people. We all want to be able to sleep peacefully at night and also don't want trigger-happy vigilantes patrolling our streets. So, every once in a while we must snitch on our criminal neighbours (but please don't follow them around like Zimmerman).

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