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General News of Wednesday, 22 March 2006

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle

Govt Robbing Ghanaian Peacekeepers?

Personnel of the Ghana Police Service Peacekeeping Mission, serving under the African Union in Darfur, Sudan, have risen up against the administration of the Ghana Police service for taking a substantial amount of $1000 from their income.

The peacekeeping officers also described as illegal, the police authority's demand for a down payment of $140 before providing them with uniforms to be used in Darfur.

In The Chronicle intelligence reports received from Darfur, the police personnel complained that what they were experiencing at the hands of the police administration in Ghana looks very discriminatory, because other countries that had their peace-keeping mission in Darfur, were provided with uniforms free-of-charge.

Our intelligence had it that before the Ghana Police Service could embark upon their trip, they had to agree to pay $140 for uniforms.

Currently, according to our source in Sudan, the Ghana Police Service is having about 500 personnel serving under the AU mission and the UN. This number comprises two batches, being May and October 2005 mission groups.

The Chronicle learnt that the $1000 taken from the personnel's accumulated daily allowances of $ 90 was to be paid upon return from the peace-keeping mission.
The peacekeeping officers, according to our investigations, sometimes spend a year with those missions, with extension of service for those with higher appointments.
The source complained, "We don't understand why we should pay for our uniforms, while other nationals on the same purpose are getting theirs free of charge," adding, "We are appealing to the ministry of Interior to investigate this and find out whether it is appropriate for us serving the country as security personnel to be buying ourselves uniforms or not."
Reacting to the issues raised, the Police Public Relations Director, DSP David Eklu, confirmed that it was true that $1000 and $140 were being taken from the peace-keeping personnel in Sudan.
He however explained that the $140 was meant for the purchase of weather protecting clothes for the police officers in Sudan.
The Police PRO boss explained that the weather in Sudan was very unstable and that the personnel there needed such clothes to protect themselves from it, since the uniforms were not the normal police uniform they were using.
According to DSP Eklu, the police administration found it prudent to buy and supply the police officers with the protective uniforms, so that the cost of the uniform being $140 (?1.3million) would be paid for when the officers receive their allowances in the peace keeping.
The PRO revealed that apart from the $140, the police administration was also taking $300 being monies given to them as loans when they were embarking on the peace-keeping trip to Sudan.
He told The Chronicle that the $1000 the officers complained of, was previously $500 and had now been increased to $1000 for about two or three years now. DSP Eklu hinted that the money was meant for Police Development Fund (PDF) and before they embarked on the mission, each police officer was made to understand and undertakings were made to that affect.
He explained that monies in the PDF were used to purchase vehicles and other logistics for some special Police exercises, such as UN or AU peacekeeping.
When The Chronicle wanted to know whether it was the government that should bear the cost of clothing for security services on peace keeping or not, DSP Eklu replied that on peace keeping either with African Union (AU) or United Nations (UN), the police personnel go there as individuals and for that matter, their clothing, accommodation and feeding were catered for by the allowances they received from organizations.
The Police PRO boss explained that the police, on peace keeping missions, were termed, Civilian Police (CIVPOL).
DSP Eklu disclosed that in respect of the police in Darfur, uniforms were supplied to them from Ghana and this was drawn from the police budget and that was why they had to pay back the money so that others could also benefit from it in future.
He hinted that the uniform they wore there were different from what they were using here in Ghana.
The public Relations director disclosed that currently, the police administration had made the payment terms flexible for the peacekeeping personnel, thus the payment is now being made quarterly, instead of them returning before payments were effected.