Ghana Police accuse Amnesty of "hitting below the belt"

At the Accra launch of the Amnesty International 2015/2016 annual report, the NGO accused Ghana Police of excessive use of force.


At the Ghana launch of the international report which looks at human rights issues through the world, Amnesty International reported that the Ghana police force used excessive force in 2015's demonstrations and mass evictions.

PIPS DCOP David Ampah-Bennin said Amnesty International's  report is unfair  on the Ghana Police Service

The report pointed to the September Let My Vote Count demonstration in Accra, where police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse demonstrators taking part in a peaceful demonstration, after failing to agree on a route for the march.


It also said there was excessive force used by police regarding the June evictions of Old Fadama, known as Sodom and Gomorrah, where police used tear gas against people demonstrating against the demolition and several people were injured.

However, in responding to the report at the Accra launch, Director General of the Ghana Police Intelligence and Professional Standards (PIPS) DCOP David Ampah-Bennin, said “I believe that today we have been hit below the belt.”

He said Ghana police were one of the best police bodies on the continent, and the unit he directed worked to “check the excesses of our own personnel.”

The unit received about 20 complaints a day from citizens accusing police of unfair treatment, extortion or abuse of office.

Of the Amnesty International accusations, DCOP Ampah-Bennin said police were tasked with protecting life and property.


With demonstrations, he said routes will be agreed on but “most often the demonstrators they want to do their own thing and go outside the routes.”

Defending the use of teargas, DCOP Ampah-Bennin said “sometimes it becomes necessary when we see stark destruction facing the police.”

He said police were concerned with “youth aggressiveness. This is what is becoming a menace in the country. The youth are becoming more aggressive and destructive.”

Police also wanted to stop 'mob justice' where a suspected criminal is attacked and lynched by a mob.

He said some of the people attacked and lynched by the mobs could be falsely accused of the crime.


Responding to DCOP Ampah-Bennin's comments, Amnesty International Ghana director Lawrence Amesu disputed the “below the belt” accusation.

“We believe that the police are very professional and we congratulate them on the work they have done and are doing, but, there are some actions they are taking now, that if it is not nipped in the bud will be a problem."

Amnesty was concerned about civilian deaths at the hands of police when trying to control a crowd, particularly when people are killed from behind.

He said for police to use their guns they have to be under attack.

“If the police shoot from behind it means the people are running away....we want to draw the attention of the Ghana government and the Ghana police too so that they will be more professional when handling crowds, now that we are in an election year and they will have a lot of crowds and mobs to deal with.”


He also wanted to see more transparency in the PIPS reports.

“We do not hear of the reports from the investigation so we do not know if they investigate or not. That is the major problem the Ghana people has with PIPS. It's because of that we have been campaigning for an independent complaints unit.”

However, DCOP Ampah-Bennin said he also believed there should be a complaints unit independent of the police, but the complaints his unit dealt with made the results public and punished police found to have misconducted.


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