COVID-19 Lockdown: Security agencies must respect the human rights of civilians

The Independent Police Complaints Coalition (IPOCOCO), a group of civil society organisations/individuals advocating the setting-up of an independent police complaint body for Ghana, has called on security agencies to respect the rights of civilians as they enforce the lockdown.

The coalition is calling on the police administration to proactively institute measures with the objective of monitoring the actions of their personnel deployed for this assignment, and to enforce disciplinary measures against all those who may be found to have gone wayward and manhandled any civilian.

In a press release, IPOCOCO noted that it recognises the severity of this global pandemic and encourages government to adopt policies which continue to advance the human rights of Ghanaians; but this must be done in accordance with international human rights treaties and national laws.

“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 of human dignity,” it said in the release.

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Again, the coalition is asking the Police Administration to set up a complaints desk and publicise hotlines or phone numbers by which the public who have suffered any abuses from the police, especially in these trying times, to call and report such personnel.

IPOCOCO is also urging the Ghana Police Service to make use of the body-cameras acquired last year to ensure that it is able to monitor incidents which may occur during the period of lockdown. “In light of COVID-19 spreading in Ghana, we call on the public to abide by the restriction orders and follow the rules,” IPOCOCO notified.

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