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Opinions of Sunday, 18 October 2020

Columnist: Nana Osei Boateng

A ‘locus classicus’ for a reformation of the global or continental state security structure?

The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is a branch of the Nigerian Police force under the Force Criminal investigation and intelligence department (FCIID).

The SARS was created as a faceless police unit that performs undercover operations against crimes associated with armed robbery, car snatching, kidnapping, cattle rustling and crimes associated with firearms.

SARS has been alleged to have perpetrated human rights abuses, illegal stop and search, illegal arrests and detentions, extrajudicial killings, sexual harassment of women and brutalizing many young Nigerians. Consequently.

The #ENDSARS was started by Jack Robinson.

In 2017, Segun Awosanya actively took up the campaign on social media alongside other activists which later culminated into several advocates and protests against police brutality and scrap of this unit.

According to Amnesty international’s 2016 report, SARS is indicated as responsible for human right abuse, cruelty, degrading treatment of Nigerians in their custody and other widespread torture.

Between January 2017 and May 2020, 82 cases of abuses and extrajudicial killings were meted out by SARS (Amnesty international, 2020 publication).

Now the big question is; ‘Is there not a quasi-SARS in almost every country in Africa and the world?’

If we are passionate in ending illegal police brutalities, abuses and killings; why don’t we adopt the #ENDSARS protest as a continental and global fight and duly replicate the fight in almost every country, to put an end to these illegalities to save the lives of our very people?

In Ghana, many people including journalists especially, have been victims of various forms of police brutalities. Furthermore, there are various suspects in cases, who have been physically abused, victimized and tortured illegally in various forms by police personnel.

Are these not tantamount to being under a SARS regime?

Latif Iddrisu, a Ghanaian broadcast journalist for the privately-owned JOYFM radio station was beaten by a group of police officers at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters in Accra on March 27, 2018.

Also, the case of Lance corporal Frederick Amanor, who assaulted a woman at the Shashi branch of the Midlands Savings cannot be forgotten.

Furthermore, the Ghana police fired warning shots to break up a rally against police brutality in West Africa and arrested Mr.Ernesto Yeboah, the leader of the Economic fighters league (EEF).

In all, about 20 people died in Ghana from Police brutality in 2018. This excludes those who sustained various degrees of injuries from such brutalities.

I believe you will understand now that the #ENDSARS protest is not a Nigerian fight. This should equally be a fight of Ghanaians and several other nationals.

In South Africa, the Guardian reports that incidents of police brutality skyrocketed by 312? from 2011 to 2012 compared to 2001 to 2002. There were also 720 deaths in police custody due to police action from 2011 to 2012.

In Bangladesh, a man named Shamim Reja was killed by police in Sonargaon police station.

During the Bersih protests in Malaysia, the Malaysian police attacked protesters and killed one. Malaysian police also cane prisoners for some offences, including theft, drug dealing and molestation.

The situation is not different in Turkey as they have a history of police brutality including the use of torture particularly between 1977 and 2002. In 2012, several officials received prison sentences for their role in the death in custody of the political activist Engin Ceber.

Furthermore in Austria, Nicola Jevremovic, a Serbian Romani man, tried to pay a friend’s parking fine and was harassed by police on 24th April 1996.

The United States of America has developed a notorious reputation for cases of police brutality, having reported far more incidents of killings by police officers than the rest of the western world. US police killed 1,093 people in 2016 and 1,146 in 2015.

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