STATESMAN OPINION: The Poor Must Find Refuge In The Law

The role of the Police Service in every state is very critical in the sense that apart from ensuring peace and order, it has the duty to protect the citizens, especially the vulnerable and the poor, when they are placed at the mercy of the rich and powerful in society.

The poor and vulnerable in our society are most often than not placed at disadvantaged position when it comes to the enforcement of the law and administration of justice. This is because apart from the fact that many of them are not alive to their rights, they do not have the resources to ensure justice is served them when need be.

It is in this regard that we agree perfectly with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in his call on the Ghana Police Service to defend the cause of the poor and needy in society.

“I would not want to take much of your time, as I see that many of you are eager to hit the dancing floor and make merry. Bur let me leave you with the words of Holy Scripture in Psalms 82:3-4 which says ‘Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy’,” the president told the police at their end of year get-together Friday.

Even though the rule of law is meant to ensure equality of all citizens before the law, we live a country where the rich and powerful usually have their way over the poor and needy because they can influence those in charge of law enforcement through various ways, including the use of financial and material inducements.

We want to draw the attention of the Police to the fact that the change President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo seeks to bring into the country includes a genuine willingness to protect all citizens, irrespective of their social backgrounds and political affiliations.

That is why he is urging them to be neutral at all times in the discharge of their mandate, and especially defend the cause of the vulnerable.

In this regard, we want to urge the Police to treat people arrested on suspicion of having breached the law with dignity, as a respect for their fundamental human rights.

This will go a long way in erasing misconceptions people have about the police as adjuncts of the government of the day, and a coercive tool for negative manipulation by the rich and poor in society.

It was refreshing hearing the President state emphatically that he does not want the police “to tie their well-being or otherwise to the fortunes of the ruling party of the day.”

We have witnessed in the recent past how some police officers had shown open bias towards a group of citizens because their lawful activities appeared not palatable to the government. This show of ‘partisan bias’ even led to the visiting of brutalities on innocent persons, as it happened during the demonstration spearheaded by the Let My Vote Count Alliance which cost a citizen one of his eyes.

The unprofessional manner in which some police officers conducted themselves was only meant to please the government of the day, instead of carrying out their duties in a professional way to serve the interest of the country.

That is not what is expected of professional and decent police officers. And with the President having stated emphatically that his government would not interfere in the work of the Police, all that Ghanaians expect from them is to stick to best practices and uphold high standards of professionalism in going about their duties.

This is what will ensure that the poor find refuge in the law.