Ace Ankomah a legal practitioner and President of the Greater Accra Branch of the Ghana Bar Association said if allegations that the BNI arrested, detained and restricted Mr. Gyimah without access to his lawyers are true, then the BNI is not only breaching the constitution, but “taking its fingers in the eye of the court.”
The BNI has suffered two earlier defeats at the courts for violating the rights of citizens- Mr Sammy Crabbe and Zuleika Asamoah Boateng.
Mr. Ankomah fears the repetition of the same offence will plunge the investigative body and its officials into needless contempt charges.
Whilst appreciating the enormity of the responsibility imposed on the BNI, he said it is in their own interest to operate within the law.
“The person who seeks to enforce the law must operate within the confines of the law,” he said.
He said if the BNI is averse with lawyers, then they must adopt other intelligence led investigations which does not require arrests, detention or restrictions.
But another lawyer disagrees.
Mr David Annan, a lawyer and a functionary of the ruling National Democratic Congress, said there is no law in the country's statutes requiring lawyers to be present before suspects are interrogated.
He said lawyers are only required to represent suspects at the law courts in order to prevent summary trials.
“The reason why right to counsel is important is not that when the interrogation is taking place the counsel has to be there. It is that when he is being sent to court he must have counsel with him because when he is going to court they will ask for bail and if the counsel is not there to explain matters properly and explain issues of law, he may be denied bail.”
He said the law must expressly states that suspects have the right to lawyers from the period of interrogation to prosecution at the courts.
Mr Annan also argued that judgments handed in favour of Mr. Crabbe and Zuleika Asamoah Boateng could not be applicable in other circumstances, insisting those were verdicts of a human rights court and could not be generalised.
“I am always surprised about views to the extent that judgment given at the human rights court is of general application. It is not," he said.
Story by Nathan Gadugah/Myjoyonline/GhanaSource: myjoyonline - Myjoyonline.com