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01.03.2006 General News

Atta Mills condemns Police brutalities

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Accra, March 1, GNA - Former Vice President Professor John Evans Atta Mills on Wednesday condemned the Police brutalisation of innocent bystanders and the demonstrators against the passage of the Representation of the People Amendment Act (ROPAA) at the Christianburg Crossroads on February 21, 2006.

A statement Prof Mills sent to the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday said he did "not accept that what the Police used on that day was 'minimum force'. Indeed what the Police used was 'maximum force', except that, thanks be to God, nobody died".

Former Vice President Mills said he found the IGP's disingenuous attempt to defend the indefensible Police action as totally unacceptable, adding that his attempt to defend the NPP Government in terms of the cost of policing demonstrations was even more reprehensible.

He said the IGP was not the NPP Government's Spokesperson on budgetary expenditure and, therefore, "clearly stepped out of line when he attempted to play that role at his press conference."

Prof Mills said the NPP was aware of the cost of policing demonstrations when they got the Supreme Court to rule that people could demonstrate without seeking Police permits. Thus it did not "lie in the mouth of the IGP to speak for that political party in government." The IGP himself must have an idea of how much it would cost to implement the ROPAA, he said, adding that the cost was most likely to run into trillions of cedis and millions of dollars and that was one the reasons the demonstrators were out on the streets to prevent. He said: "If the IGP is concerned about cost, then he should advise the NPP Government to abandon the idea of the ROPAA. That will save more cost than any cost arising out of the policing of anti-ROPAA demonstrations."

The IGP could not have forgotten that it was public agitations, strikes, demonstrations and boycotts that won Ghana her independence; that saved Ghana from Kutu Acheampong's reckless UNIGOV misadventure and that continue to be the vehicles for oppressed people all over the world.

Former Vice President Mills said the IGP being a Lawyer should read the judgement in the NPP's Police Permit Case (NPP v. IGP) again and the statements contained in the judgement of the Supreme Court. He said in that judgement the Supreme Court said: "In countries which practise true democracy, supporters and opponents of every conceivable cause are given freedom to associate and express their opinions. In the end, some have succeeded and their unpopular demands have become majority wishes and have been recognised". (Per Amua-Sekyi JSC)"

The judgement said: "This court cannot ignore the fact that at the close of this second millennium of the modern era the attainment and enjoyment of fundamental human rights have become prime instruments of international relations. In rendering this opinion, therefore, we must take into serious consideration the struggles, exploits and demands of the oppressed and struggling people of Africa, America and elsewhere led by such men as Nelson Mandela and Dr Martin Luther King Jnr in their fight for fundamental human and civil rights". (Charles Hayfron-Benjamin JSC)"

Prof Milss said: "In the light of what happened during the last demonstration of 21st February 2006, which I participated in, I am compelled to warn the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government to watch the political direction in which they are taking the country with the ROPAA", and to also advise the Electoral Commission (EC) about the expectations of the people now that the Act had been passed.

"As a citizen of this country, who later became Vice-President of the Republic and a Presidential candidate on two occasions, I watched when the NPP embarked on numerous demonstrations and boycotts. I watched the NPP in-opposition go to court and win a Supreme Court victory that declared that one did not require a Police permit to demonstrate in Ghana. An extract from the Supreme Court judgement read as follows:

"It is very tempting for some Policemen to adopt the attitude of being too ready or willing to give orders, or misuse their authority and be bossy and interfering, ready to show the public where power lies". (NPP v. IGP [1993-94] 2 GLR 459, per Aikins JSC). "Unfortunately, this was precisely the attitude that the Police showed during the 21st February 2006 demonstration, which attitude the IGP even more unfortunately sought to condone at his press conference of 24th February 2006.

"All the events of the 21st February demonstration suggested a planned effort by certain unseen hands to foment trouble in order to provoke retaliatory counter-violence by the Police, and that plan seemed to have worked to perfection. In the process, what the Police have described as the use of 'minimum force' has resulted in Ghanaian citizens exercising their constitutional right to demonstrate being brutalised, maimed and injured and properties lost or damaged. Prof Mills said it was unfortunate that the NPP by passing the Act had shifted the focus of public protest from Parliament and the President to the EC.

"Since the EC has been given the power to decide when to bring the law into operation, we await the decision of the EC on the matter." Speaking as a Lawyer, however, and a Lawyer with expertise in Commercial Law, I wish to remind the EC that the Insolvency Act of Ghana was passed by the Parliament of Ghana in 1962 as Act 153. "It was to be brought into force by a Legislative Instrument. Forty-four years after its passage, the Insolvency Act has still not been brought into force. That should be some guide to the EC, for as it stands now; it is only the EC that can save this country from the doomsday scenario that the NPP has created for her with the passage of the ROPAA.

Prof Mills thanked the Media and congratulated them on their constant support and coverage of the activities of the peoples' "Battle Against ROPAA". 01 March 06