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General News of Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Source: GNA

CHRI holds public hearing at Tarkwa

Tarkwa (W/R), Feb. 20, GNA -The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) in collaboration with Ghana Police Service and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has held a day's Police/Public forum to give the public an opportunity to speak on violations of their human rights at Tarkwa on Wednesday. The hearing was under the theme: "Improving the Relationship Between the Police and the Public in Ghana".

It brought together personnel of the Police Service, Prisons Service, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Traditional Rulers, Community Leaders, the Media and the general public, among others. The purpose of the programme was to meet and start an engagement with the police to find out the needs of the police as far as policing is concerned.

And the role expected of the public to play to help the police in the discharge of their duties to meet public expectations and suggestions made to Police to discharge its duties efficiently. In an address read on his behalf, ACP Robert Mark Azu said naturally, the work of the police thrives on the willingness of the public to render support and co-operation.

He said, giving information by the public on activities of social miscreants to the provision of vital and reliable hint help police in investigations, saying, the public could partner the police in providing logistics such as office and residential accommodation to enhance the effectiveness of the police.

ACP Azu said, the police must be seen to be forging a collaborative effort in the attainment of a peaceful and orderly society that is devoid of mistrust and suspicion.

He said the legacies and cultures inherited by the present day police had impacted negatively on its image, adding, police methods and systems have not help in positive image building and consequently portrayed the police as a hostile institution of state.

Therefore, he said, in order to promote healthy police/public relationship, the police must be seen to be fair to all manner of persons regardless of creed religion, colour, race and sex. ACP Azu said the Police must also refrain from the use of brute force and treat all persons with decorum and utmost civility. One area that could promote a positive police image is the community policing concept which makes the work better understood through victim support and community watch programmes. Another means by which police/public relationship could be improved is the extensive involvement of the media in almost every activity of the police to disseminate information on the work systems of the police.

Nana Oye Lithur, Regional Co-ordinator CHRL-Africa Office said Police Service is one of the institutions the constitution mentioned and spelt out its duties in Ghana.

She said it is to ensure maintenance of law and order and this could not be achieved without the support of people. Nana Lithur said in Ghana, there was always friction between the public and the police, saying it was not the fault of the public because during the colonial rule, the police were used for specific purposes and therefore, sometimes the public was suspicious of the Police.

"We do not see the police as our friends. It is because of this that the police was transformed from a police force to Police Service," she added.

In a welcoming address, ACP Daniel Sampana, Tarkwa Divisional Police Commander said the police is an institution charged with responsibility of Protecting Life and Property: Prosecution and Detecting Crime Apprehension.

He said to discharge all these responsibilities effectively and efficiently the Service needed the active co-operation of the public. ACP Sampana said the ingredients for any good relations were respect and trust so as to ensure long and sustained relations.

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