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General News of Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Source: GNA

The Vice President should not chair the Police Council - Asante

Accra, Aug. 31, GNA - Mr. Kojo Asante, Head of Programmes at the Center for Democratic Development (CDD)-Ghana, has criticized the constitutional requirement that makes a sitting Vice President, Chairman of the Police Council.

Mr. Asante said this rendered the Police Council "almost immune to criticism because of the personality involved, and minimises the opportunity for public scrutiny of the work of the Council".

He made the critique when delivering a lecture at the launch of a think-tank, African Centre for Development Law and Policy (ACDLP), in Accra on Tuesday.

His topic was: "Policing, Security and Development: Challenges and Prospects under Ghana's Fourth Republic".

The ACDLP, which will be concentrating on issues of criminal justice reforms, governance, advocacy and human rights, clinical legal education, is hosted by the Law School of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration.

Mr. Asante said just like the Interior and Defence Committees of Parliament, the Council rarely made a public statement or even responded to any questions from the public even though most of the concerns of the public bordered on security.

He said the state should take a long term view of addressing policing issues by strengthening democratic civilian control and eliminate political interference and control for effective policing.

"In the context of intense political competition, the police as an independent and impartial enforcer and promoter of civil and political rights are needed now more than ever", he argued.

He said incentives such as promotion, transfer and merit-based appointments that beholden the police to politicians must be reviewed, as well as ensure fixed term secured appointments, strengthen oversight responsibility of the Interior and Defence Committees of Parliament.

Mr Asante kicked against keeping the police personnel in barracks saying this was not in tandem with modern-day policing.

He proposed that a percentage of government revenue as applicable to district assemblies, be put aside for strengthening political and governance institutions, and in this case, the Police Service, to acquire logistics, employ more hands and employ technology such as video cameras to film crime scenes to enhance their work especially investigations.

He said to reduce persistent abuse of human rights associated with the police, the service must look seriously at the way in which it assesses the suspicion of crimes and subsequent arrest.

Mr. Asante commended the police service for the initiative of partnering the citizenry in fighting crime as well as improving the understanding of police activities in the community.

Mrs. Georgina T. Wood, Chief Justice, said the challenge of harnessing the gains of law in national development has continued to confront "us as a country in respect of which we need to overcome".

The Chief Justice said this in a speech read for her by Justice Ernest Gbeadegbe, Supreme Court judge on the launch African Center for Development Law and Policy.

She said the launch marks the take off of an institution that seeks to bridge the gap between civil society and academia.

"Even more significant is that it marks a significant and meaningful stride towards advancing the frontiers of legal knowledge, scholarship and research in Ghana and beyond", the Chief Justice added.

Mrs. Wood noted that other jurisdictions have developed and experimented with models that have largely worked and seen radical transformations in social progress.

"We in Ghana need to recognize the imperatives of this and exploit the utility of law in development. it is yet for law to play its role effectively in social engineering, legislation must be based on and backed by solid research data and information, and legal education must be reformed and re-tuned to reflect the changing dynamics of the time", she observed.

The Chief Justice said the initiative would complement others such as the Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research based in the University of Ghana, Legon, in driving the agenda on a research-led development policy formulation in Ghana.

She cautioned that as the country deepens its governance system and ethic, there was the need to equally work hard at educating the citizenry on important issues affecting the country.

Professor Agyeman Badu, Rector, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), said the centre will complement the GIMPA Law School as well as support its mission.

Professor Samuel.N Wood, who chaired the event, called on the centre to ensure its works are based on cutting edge research and deep thinking, saying, this would make people believe in the centre and its works.