General News of Saturday, 21 January 2017
The Minister-nominee for the Interior, Ambrose Dery is hesitant about calling for the disbandment of vigilante groups with ties to political parties.
According to Mr. Dery, he is instead in favour of de-linking individual offences from partisan considerations, because in his view, there should be no group liability for criminal offences committed by individuals.
He was speaking to the issue of vigilante groups and the recent incidents of post-election violence during his vetting by Parliament to head the Interior Ministry.
“For me to take such a decision [ordering the disbandment of vigilante groups], I must be convinced that those groups are responsible for these activities are [partisan related violence], and I have also said there is no vicarious liability for criminal offences. I am not aware that it is political party vigilantes that are doing so,” he argued in defence of his stance.
Ahead of the 2016 elections, the then Minister for Interior, Prosper Douglas Bani, ordered the Ghana Police Service to disband all security and vigilante groups within political parties, arguing that the activities of such groups, threatens the stability of the country.
The Kofi Annan Peace Keeping Centre in a 2016 report, revealed the existence of 16 political vigilante groups in the country, with a majority located in the Northern Region.
Mr. Dery, however, insisted that the reported incidents of vigilante action must be handled on an individual basis as against an outright disbandment.
“All must be condemned and not be countenanced, however, handling of each complaint must be professionally pursued in that, you are a suspect, investigations conducted, rights are respected and people who deserve to be prosecuted will be prosecuted.”
“Article 41 of the constitution gives citizens the obligation to cooperate with security agencies, and it also gives citizens the duties to protect public property and what have you. Indeed, when it comes to the misuse of funds it even uses combat.”
Police treating cases on individual bases
Speaking to Citi News’ Sixtus Dong Ullo after the sitting, Mr. Dery further indicated that, Police were also treating reported cases of violence on an individual basis.
“What I know and what the police have reported to me is that individuals have been arrested and investigated for their personal actions. If they belong to one party or not, it is neither here nor there because that is not going to influence us to condone any wrongdoing.”
“If they are causing unrests, the members who cause unrest must be dealt with but when you say groups, there is no group liability for criminal offences,” he stated.