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30.12.2004 Press Review

EDITORIAL: Pursue Killers Of Mobila

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The proceedings of the National Reconciliation Commission brought into the open a myriad of horrible and sordid criminal activities perpetrated against ordinary and innocent Ghanaians by unscrupulous security personnel employed and paid by the state to protect the safety of citizens.

So unimaginable and sadistic were some of the attrocities committed in the name of state power and authority that some of the perpetrators came to realise their beastliness as the victims narrated the ordeals they went through. In certain instances, the uncritical display of solidarity within the security personnel that enabled such heinous crimes to go unpunished could only be described in Shakespeare's words: security gave way to conspiracy.

The expectation of many well-meaning Ghanaians has been that we will all learn from the past and apply state authority more genially. But, somehow, as it is said literally,there will always be some blood in the head of the tsetsefly, there are still deviants within our security agencies.

That is why, despite all the political points scoring over the dastardly death of Alhaji Issa Mobila, the Regional Chairman of the Convention People's Party (CPP),who was alleged to have been part of the campaign team of the National Democratic Congress in the last elections, we need to pursue those behind his untimely death.

The pathologist is reported to have issued a report indicting the security agencies. Alhaji Mobila is said to have died from torture.The resort to torture, for whatever reasons, cannot be tenable because he surrendered himself to lawful authority; he did not resist arrest.

Indeed, if he had been involved in any criminal conspiracy, he would have been more useful to the investigators alive than dead.Under the Criminal Code 1960(Act 29), the law provides the grounds on which force or harm may be justified.

These include “the authority to arrest and detain for felony or authority to arrest, detain or search a person otherwise than for felony”.

However, Section 32 of Act 29 sets limits to justifiable force or harm by providing that “notwithstanding the existence of any matter of justification for force,force cannot be justifiable as having been used in pursuance of that matter, which is in excess of the limits relating to the matter or which in any case extends beyond the amount and kind of force reasonably necessary for the purpose for which force is permitted to be used”.

It is clear from the spirit and letter of the law that torturing a suspect who voluntarily submits to the law cannot be justified, especially so when the 1992 Constitution states unequivocally that “the dignity of all persons shall be inviolable”.

Article 15 (2) of the Constitution states that “No person shall, whether or not he is arrested, restricted or detained, be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and any other condition that detracts or is likely to detract from his dignity and worth as a human being.”

It is on the basis of these lucid and plain provisions, against the background of the pathologist's report, that we think those who killed Alhaji Mobila and abused state authority must be found out and dealt with appropriately through due process and the rule of law.

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