By Mohammed Ali
A civil society advocacy group, the Common Wealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), launched a booklet on the rights of the public and police responsibility to create awareness about police accountability at the International Press Centre in Accra on August 7.
Launching the booklet, “101 Things You Wanted to Know About the Police but Were Too Afraid to Ask,” the Australian High Commissioner, Joanna Adamson, said over 2000 copies were been distributed to over 80 schools and organizations throughout the country.
The booklet, published with support from the Australian Aid, would promote police accountability through “raising public awareness and mark another step towards deepening Ghana’s already commendable democracy and its citizen’s access to human rights,” said Adamson.
Mina Mensah, the Africa regional coordinator of CHRI, said, “To deepen democracy in this country, the face of policing has to change to conform to democracy principles. The police have to account for the exercise of the responsibility (given) to them by law.”
She explained that one key gap to ensuring accountability of the Ghana police service is Ghanaians’ lack of knowledge of their rights, and the result is that many people regard the violation of their rights as a norm rather than the exception.
She said, CHRI developed the booklet to create awareness and educate the people all over Ghana on their rights and to help bridge the gap in this knowledge and empower the public to safeguard their rights, as well as hold the police accountable for their actions and inactions.
Mr. Sam Okudzeto, the executive chairman of CHRI Africa, advised Ghanaians to get the constitution, which is now available in a pocket size.
“You don’t have to be a lawyer (to own one),” he said.
“Ghanaians should seek education on their rights,” said Okudzeto. “When you don’t know your rights, (they) can be easily violated.”
He maintained that when citizens know their rights, they can work with the police to ensure that law and order is maintained.
Mr. Kofi Bnetum Quantson, a retired National Security Coordinator, admonished the public and the police to be partners in solving the problem.
“It’s only a society which is corrupt that can accommodate a corrupt police service. We should all be partners in solving the problem,” he said. “The police can be efficient and effective with the help and support of the public.”
In her address, the Australian High Commissioner said: “There is a clear link between human rights, democracy, and development. A better environment for human rights is part of good governance and can enhance a sustainable and equitable growth.”
She added that the booklet represents the EU’s commitment to work with the CHRI.