Amnesty International condemns excesses by security personnel

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    Amnesty International Ghana (AI Ghana) has condemned the frequent use of excessive force and killings by law enforcement and security personnel in the country.

    In recent times, it noted, there had been several instances when riot control procedures had not been followed by the members of the security services, who had rather resorted to the use of lethal force.

    In most cases, it said, no specific information on the prosecution of perpetrators of such acts and compensation for victims had been provided.

    A recent incident was the clash between some residents of Ejura in the Ashanti Region and the military, which led to the death of two persons, with four others injured.

    Independent mechanism

    Speaking at a press briefing in Accra yesterday, the Country Director of AI Ghana, Mr Frank Doyi, observed that the mechanism to investigate police abuses in the country was not fully independent, as complaints against policemen were investigated by their fellow policemen.

    He, therefore, urged the government to take urgent steps to establish an independent mechanism to carry out investigations into alleged misconduct by security men in the country.

    In addition, he said, there was the need for the country to take measures to ensure that security personnel acted in accordance with UN basic principles on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials.

    Media freedom

    Mr Doyi also expressed concern about the threats and  harassment which journalists in the country were being subjected to without any justifiable cause.

    He said the 1992 Constitution recognised media freedom and independence and, therefore, it was an obligation for the government to protect journalists.

    Mr Doyi, therefore, called on the government to live up to its responsibility to guarantee the safety and protection of journalists and all media outlets.

    “We further call on the government to take effective legal and other measures to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of attacks against journalists and other media practitioners and ensure that victims have access to effective remedies,” he said.

    Conditions of prisoners

    Mr Doyi further noted that the Ghana Prisons Service had not been able to live up to its mandate due to poor resourcing and lack of policies which would help reduce the rate of recidivism.

    Another contributory factor, he observed, was the lack of segregation of detainees from convicted criminals and separation of juveniles from other prisoners, inadequate provision of basic services and facilities, as well as lack of an independent system for monitoring places of detention.

    To revamp the service, he said, there was the need for the government to take steps to address the problem of  overcrowding in the prisons by introducing a genuine policy on the use of non-custodial penalties.

    Additionally, he said, there was the need for the country to take the necessary steps to ensure that all prisoners awaiting trial were able to effectively exercise their right to promptly challenge the lawfulness of their detention before a court, apply for release pending trial and receive prompt and fair trial.