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11.11.2019 Opinion

The Rights Of Ordinary Citizens And Members Of The Secu Cum Intel Agencies Cannot Be The Same

By Mohammed Abdul Hanan EL-SaeedĀ 
The Rights Of Ordinary Citizens And Members Of The Secu Cum Intel Agencies Cannot Be The Same
NOV 11, 2019 OPINION

All rights and freedoms are not the same so far as it concerns members of the Secu cum Intel Agencies. They must learn to sacrifice their rights and freedoms for other citizens to enjoy. That is their calling which they must not complain about. Full stop, end of sarcasm.

Now let's begin a banter that is capable of confusion and exposing the ignorance of many who would usually read, but will not understand and end up filling their hearts with wasteful bitterness which comes as a result of their sentimental attachments to issues that requires them to use their heads instead of their hearts.

When such people arrive here, they should know that their diabolical missions will be treated with utter contempt it deserves.

Cynicism, derision, irony, mockery and rancour are not wanted here. That said, let's soldier on...

In guaranteeing equal rights, justice and freedoms - members of the Secu cum Intel agencies are largely and strategically exempted in most cases for good reasons. Let's attempt to clarify this conjecture.

In chapter five of the 1992 constitution on fundamental human rights and freedoms ala protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms, Article 12(1) states that "the fundamental human rights and freedoms enshrined in this chapter shall be respected and upheld by the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary and all other organs of government and legal persons in Ghana, and shall be enforceable by the courts as provided for by this constitution.

But it is important to establish that although this article is unambiguous, self-explanatory and straight to the point, there exists the need to some extent and particularly so as provided albeit "cursorily" or briefly in Article 16 (1)(b) where it makes mention of individuals in "disciplined forces or services" who are required by law to undertake certain functions.

It is on this note that I will like to proceed to restate the point that "what the constitution provides for every citizen by way of General Fundamental Freedoms, rights and justice, "it does not intend same for people in the security agencies" (advisedly) otherwise, there will not be need for the state to have them in place first of all.

It is against this background that people in the security agencies cannot behave or act in ways symptomatic of what other "ordinary citizens" in the country do when it comes to advocating, fighting and demanding their rights as spelt out in the constitution.

It is a truism that fundamental human rights and freedoms are for the enjoyment of all citizens, but yet again, it is also a manifest reality that, some sections of the population such as members of the Secu cum Intel agencies must forego/suspend or postpone their right to such freedoms and rights for the collective betterment, security, safety, cohesion and health of the country. They do this by not engaging acts that constitutes disciplinary offences (major and minor) with its attendant penalties provided in the regulations.

Such major and minor offences would have constituted a violation of the fundamental human rights of an ordinary man on the street, because the constitution itself defines the Secu cum Intel agencies as "disciplined instructions with hitherto "abnormal regulations" that seeks to "restrict movement, deprive right to free speech, and the right to associate freely" becomes the regulated normal in the security services.

In Article 16 (3) for example like I indicated supra, the constitution attempts to exempt disciplined institutions such as the security agencies from enjoying certain forms of freedoms at their training schools, barracks workplaces etc, just so that their work will not be gravely jeopardized on the basis of fundamental freedoms, rights and justice.

Let's stretch further to look at a few articles in the 1992 constitution and try to juxtapose same with various sections, regulations and instructions especially on what constitutes minor and major offences ala the Police Service Act (350/70), the Police Service Regulations Act, C. I. 76 (2012) and Service Instructions (SI) to reinforce the point that although the constitution guarantees unbridled and enormous amounts of responsible, dutiful fundamental freedoms and justice for all citizens, it "technically exempts" members of the security services for good reasons from enjoying such unbridled freedoms, rights and justices.

So let's say the constitution guarantees you all the rights, but the police service regulations Act says to you that "it is a major offence for an officer to - 82(1)(b) use without lawful authority any property or facilities of the service for purposes not in connection with official duties. (ie wear uniforms to meet unauthorized groups, use headquarters precincts or offices HQ to record contrived videos for personal upliftment and exposure etc) what this means is that you are being denied some of your rights guaranteed under the constitution.

But this is not so, because the constitution that does just provide you with such freedoms on a silver platter just like that - it requires you to observe certain obligations before you can enjoy your nights so to speak.

So for example, you are supposed to observe certain laws, rules and regulations at your place of employment which the same constitution acknowledges as the source of your right to work and to earn a living ala your right to economic freedom. Refusal to respect one aspect of the rights enshrined in the constitution for you in my mind puts you in a disadvantaged position to enjoy the rest of your rights.

Just imagine a situation where any member of the service will refuse deployment to a conflict zone in the country or elsewhere in the world just by citing reasons to the effect that the constitution guarantees his freedom to life, so he will not take "risk to go and get killed" in the line of duty forgetting that the same constitution places a duty on you to protect not just the country, but other citizens as well.

Furthermore, when the constitution says that All persons shall have the right to—Freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of the press and other media; you are tempted to ask yourself why for example; you need to take a break and ask yourself why both the police service regulations Act, C.I 76(2012) and all other relevant laws, instructions and policies of the police service bars its members from freely writing and speaking to the media unless they are duly authorized to do so.

Here again, imagine what will happen if all police officers were to be given a field day to talk to the media at the least chance? Your guess is as good as mine.

When the constitution provides that "freedom of thought, conscience and belief, which shall include academic freedom" do we in all honesty believe that this should include all members of the Secu agencies? I hold the opinion that if all members of the Secu cum Intel agencies were to be allowed such, it would have been difficult to control them.

Once again, when the constitution provides "freedom of assembly including freedom to take part in processions and demonstrations" do we frankly and honestly believe that this kind of freedom should be extended to all Secu cum Intel agencies in the country?

Police officers for example are not allowed to openly complain about their service conditions publicly and this is something that can pass for judicial notice. But yet, the same constitution says that "freedom of association, which shall include freedom to form or join trade unions or other associations, national and international, for the protection of their interest".

Here, one is tempted to ask whether the police service or for that matter all other security agencies don't reserve to the right to protect their interests? Far from that, but this again is for the health and wellness of the services.

The constitution for example grants rights such as right to "information, subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary for a democratic, society" do we sincerely believe that this includes members of the Security Agencies? Not at all, in my opinion. I say so because, if this was the case for all officers of the services, "hell would have broken loose" long time ago.

Everybody in the country is guaranteed "freedom of movement which means the right to move freely in Ghana, the right to leave and to enter Ghana and immunity from expulsion from Ghana" but certainly, this is not so with the police service.

In the police service, the movement of its men and women in barracks at least according to the regulations and service instructions is strictly monitored and controlled where one needs to make entries in a station diary on the instr of his superior and to return at such time specified by the superior.

Not only that, movement in and around the barracks is highly restricted and personnel are directed on when it is appropriate to receive visitors and when not to receive.

Such directives and regulations we must understand is for the collective well-being of the service and by extension the safety and security of the nation.

Finally, let's consider the situation where the constitution provides that "All citizens shall have the right and freedom to form or join political parties and to participate in political activities subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a free and democratic society and are consistent with this Constitution."

Consider that per what the constitution provides supra, all members of the service had the same freedoms as all other citizens to join political parties, pressure groups and or to organize demonstrations, one can imagine what the situation would have been for the entire country.

Rather than ask for rights and freedoms to be respected, security officers must understand that their kind of work requires them to suffer some form of discomfort just so that others can survive, and live peacefully in the country.

Mohammed Abdul Hanan EL-Saeed

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."