General News of Monday, 15 May 2017
The Government has been asked to stop using police officers as prosecutors in court because it is asking them to do too much.
Public Interest lawyer Martin Kpebu has argued, police prosecutors cannot do the job as properly as lawyers can.
An under staffed AG's Department use police prosecutors to fill in the human resource gaps.
The Attorney General's Department and the Police Service collaborate to provide training for police officers to support the AG's prosecutorial powers.
The training include refresher courses in criminal law, court procedures and the deduction of evidence.
The Law and Development Associations (LADA) Institute, with funding support from the United States through the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs have been conducting training to improve the competence and confidence of police prosecutors.
At least $1million funding was secured by the institute to train 300 Ghanaian police prosecutors in 2016.
"Yes I admit police officers learn investigations but it is not the same" the legal practitioner spoke at a public lecture in Accra on the topic, ‘the challenges of the criminal defense lawyer to all indigent defendants’.
Picking out some of the difference in the professional outlook of the police prosecutor and the lawyer, Martin Kpebu said public prosecutors "don't have the mindset of a lawyer".
Police prosecutors observed always have the objective of incarcerating suspects instead of opting for other forms of punishment.
This is why he believes the prisons are severely congested.
The police are trained to prevent crime, fight crime and investigate crime but the job of prosecuting suspects is an entire professional terrain unsuited for the police.
"So when at the same time you want [the police prosecutor] to be responsible for a fair trial, it leads to an incongruous situation".
Martin Kpebu is noted for his work in securing a landmark judgment of the Supreme Court which said persons accused of crimes such as murder, rape and narcotics can henceforth be granted bail.
The judgement struck down a nearly 60-year-old law which he described as “one of the most oppressive laws on our statute books”.