PRESS RELEASE: COVID-19 Lockdown: Security Agencies must Respect the Human Rights of Civilians
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
We, the Independent Police Complaints Coalition (IPOCOCO), are a group of civil society organizations/individuals advocating for the setting up of an independent police complaint body for Ghana.
We commend the efforts by the President of the Republic His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo and his government on the various steps they have taken to address the current pandemic of the Corona Virus (COVID 19). We understand the severity of this global pandemic and encourage the government to adopt policies that continues to advance the human rights of Ghanaians.
As part of the measures government has put in place is the enactment and invocation of the Imposition of Restrictions Act, 2020 (Act 1012) in fighting the pandemic which has resulted in the current lockdown being observed from today 30thMarch, 2020 for a period of 14 days.
While government can impose certain restrictions on some human rights in order to protect public health in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, any such measures must be consistent with the wider human rights framework. It is therefore important that Law Enforcement Agencies deployed to implement the restrictions imposed undertake their activities in line with Article 15 (1) and (2) of the 1992 Constitution which provide in no uncertain terms for the respect for human dignity as follows:
(15) (1) “The dignity of all persons shall be inviolable., (2) No person shall, whether or not he is arrested, restricted or detained, be subjected to— (a) torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; (b) any other condition that detracts or is likely to detract from his dignity and worth as a human being.
We also note the assurances given by the joint military and police taskforce in their Operation COVID Safety, to undertake a humanitarian operation adopting “democratic security systems” to enforcing the restrictions to avoid any form of human rights abuse during this period.
We on this note want to remind the security agencies (Police, Military, etc.) that Ghana is a signatory to many international human rights treaties and protocols that prohibit all forms of human rights violations including torture, degrading and inhuman treatment of persons. Specifically, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) in Article 5 calls for respect of the dignity inherent in a human being and the recognition of his legal status and the prohibition of all forms of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in Article 5 also expressly abhors torture. Similarly, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in Article 7 also condemns torture while The Luanda Guidelines on the Conditions of Arrest, Police Custody and Pre-trial Detention in Africa (Luanda Guidelines) demands that the State must always endeavour to promptly take steps to prohibit and prevent torture.
The Coalition recalls that the Daily Graphicnewspaper reported on July 3, 2019, quoting the then Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr David Asante-Apeatu, that the Ghana Police Service had taken delivery of 250 body cameras to be used by its personnel. He said the 250 pieces was the first batch of 3,000 pieces expected to be delivered by the close of 2019 as part of efforts to enhance police transparency and accountability. We urge the Ghana Police to make use of these body cameras at this time to ensure we are able to monitor incidents which may occur during the period of the lockdown.
Again, we call on the Police Administration to proactively institute measures with the objective to monitor the actions of their personnel deployed for this assignment, and enforce disciplinary measures against all those who may be found to have gone wayward, and manhandled any civilian.
In furtherance of the right to remedy provided in Article 2 (3) (a) of the ICCPR, we ask the Police Administration to set up a Complaints Desk, and publicize Hotline phone numbers by which the public, who have suffered any abuses from the police, especially in this trying times, to call and report such personnel.
Finally, in light of the spread of COVID-19in Ghana, we call on the public to abide by the restriction orders and follow the rules. We equally call on the security agencies themselves to take precautions and not contract the virus while enforcing the restrictions during this period.
Independent Police Complaints Coalition (IPOCOCO) made up of:
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, (CHRI) Africa Office
Centre for Democratic Governance (CDD)
Amnesty International Ghana
Human Rights Advocacy Centre (HRAC)
Bureau of Public Safety (BPS)
Legal Resource Centre (LRC)
Mr. Paul Avuyi
Mr. Edmund Foley