The laws of the country have copiously provided for the pattern of behaviors that are legal and others that are criminal. The legal behaviors are the ones the law does not frown on. Whereas criminal behaviors are attitudes or behaviors that are prohibited by law.
Some examples of criminal behaviors are; theft, jumping traffic lights, assaulting others, et al. With these criminal acts, when we commit them, the law provides for the punishment and the process through which such punishments are meted out to the recalcitrant.
The framers of our Constitution and/or statute assiduously carved the law in a manner that puts the fundamental human rights of the citizenry supreme to all others. These fundamental rights can only be ceased by the courts in accordance with law if proven that the accused has broken the criminal code.
Therefore, it means that even where we have wronged the law, there is a procedure established as to how to get conviction and possible incarceration.
From the outset, understand that the law has vested such powers in the GHANA POLICE SERVICE to ensure that law breakers are arrested and taken through the legal process for possible incarceration if proven guilty by the court.
This presupposes that the Ghana police service only has a mandate of arresting and arraigning the suspects before the court.
What the Constitution says
As a suspect, you have the right to be treated with reasonable care and respect . Thus article 15 of the 1992 constitution,
- 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.
- (3) A person who has not been convicted of a criminal offence shall not be treated as a convicted person and shall be kept separately from convicted persons.
The above provision in the constitution is supreme and above all other rules. The Ghanaian legal system is founded on this Constitution, hence its provisions must be adhered to by all officers of the law.
The police cannot treat a suspect as though he is already convicted of the crime, the police must respect the person’s right still and of course must not torture or give him inhuman treatment.
Citizens must know this in order to resist some unprofessional officers of the law who seek to ride on ignorance of these provisions to usurp citizens of their rights. Indeed, as a suspect if you are able to allege and prove that you were tortured or handled in contravention of this provision you may be entitled to compensation.
The Criminal and other offences procedure, Act 30, 1960 is the statute that regulates the crimes punishable by law and how these processes are triggered every time a suspected crime is detected.
I therefore admonish the Ghanaian citizenry to fortify themselves with this code for our own protection against being abuse by officers of the law. It may also guide our actions in order not to be caught up in the nets of crimes.