Mr Joseph Whittal, Commissioner, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), has advised personnel of the Ghana Police Service to carry out their mandate with respect.
He said being aggressive with the public only made them unprofessional and that respect was earned and could be reciprocated.
Mr Whittal gave the advice at the opening of a two-day collaborative session organised by CHRAJ and the Deutsche Gesell schaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to strengthen the cooperation between the Police Service, Media and CSOs towards effective case management and improved accountability.
In 2019, Ghana accepted the invitation of the German Federal Foreign Office to become part of its “Programme to Build and Strengthen Police Structures in Selected Partner Countries in Africa” (In Short: Police Programme), being implemented by GIZ.
During an appraisal mission in 2019, the Ghana Police Service and GIZ identified three thematic result areas for their cooperation -Training System, Community Policing, and Police Accountability.
Mr Whittal charged the Police Service to listen to the citizens, maintain their (police) respect and desist from physically assaulting suspects.
He noted that the Police Professional Standards Bureau (PPSB) was handling police-civilian matters in such a way that citizens stopped reporting to CHRAJ, however, the difficulties in getting the Bureau to be transparent to citizens pushed people to CHRAJ.
The Commissioner underscored the need for enhanced cooperation to ensure that stakeholders understood and appreciated the roles and responsibilities of the institutions towards improved accountability.
He said it could be done through advocacy and awareness creation.
Mr Whittal said the Media and the CSOs could educate appropriately and provide accurate information to the public when they understood the operations of the Police Service.
The Commissioner said it was important that stakeholders had regular monitoring of compliance with standards of accountability.
Mr Philipp Niehenke, Manager of Country Component, Ghana, GIZ, said the meeting must not become a blame game where stakeholders would criticise one another.
‘’Also, it is not about Civil Society and Media teaching Police how to do their job, but it is about creating a better understanding of each other’s role in ensuring police accountability,’’ he said.
Mr Niehenke commended the leadership of the Police Service for their efforts in engaging with the public.
‘‘The Inspector General’s field trips and other POMAB members, including the Director General, PPSB, getting involved when critical incidents like the one in Nkoranza happened have shown citizens that the Police was listening to their concerns,’’ he said.
Mr Niehenke noted that the PPSB had taken pro-active steps to fight misconduct within the service.
He applauded CHRAJ for exercising its mandate in handling complaints, including those involving unprofessional conduct and other forms of misconduct by police officers.
‘‘This strong mandate as well as your long experience in the field of accountability has led to a lot of respect from all sides, the Police Service as well as Civil Society and the Media,” he said and assured that the GIZ would support some of the reform initiatives of the Police Service.