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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ghana: Prof Atafuah: Ruling Against BNI Calls For Celebration”

The former Commissioner for Human Rights in the Province of British Columbia, Canada and a private legal practitioner, Prof Ken Attafuah, has hailed the recent ruling by an Accra High Court regarding clients or suspects having access to their counsel during questioning by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), as a landmark victory for the rule of law.

The Human Rights Division of an Accra High Court yesterday ruled that it is unconstitutional for the BNI to interrogate suspects without the presence of their counsel. The NPP Greater Accra Regional Chairman, Sammy Crabbe, had sued the BNI for infringing on his rights when the investigative body invited him for questioning regarding Ghana International Airlines and prevented him from having his lawyer present during the interrogation process.

Speaking on PEACEFM’s KOKROKOO this morning, the former Executive Director of the National Identification Authority (NIA), posited that the ruling is in consonance with the constitution. According to him, due process of law hinges on these three principles, namely; the Right to Counsel of Choice, Presumption of Innocence and Procedural Fairness, which the country’s constitution guarantees.
Quoting extensively from Articles 14 (1) and 14(2) to support his argument for the rights of an individual and the protection of personal liberties, Prof Attafuah called for a celebration.

“We as Ghanaians should celebrate, we should bask in the glamour of this victory for democracy and the rule of law,” the learned professor said. Touching on the need for effecting arrests in a constitutionally mandated manner, Professor Attafuah stated, “the possibility exists that an accused person may be factually guilty but legally innocent if the proper procedures and rights of the accused have been violated.” Whilst citing Article 14 (5), to buttress his point, Prof Attafuah therefore stated that it is important to let the security agencies know what is enshrined in the constitution in such scenarios. Article 14 (5) states; “A person who is unlawfully arrested, restricted or detained by any other person shall be entitled to compensation from that other person.”

By Kojo Asante/peacefmonline.com

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