Dr Vladimir Antwi-Danso, Dean of Academic Affairs at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff Training School, has stated that even though vigilantism is supported by the 1992 Constitution, it has become a bad phenomenon as a result of using it for violence and criminality.
“Vigilantism per se, is not a bad thing and the constitution allows vigilantism because in 1979, the late President Liman asked the citizenry to form vigilantes in our areas to help in governance, but it has taken a very wrong turn that is why we are all in hysteria and has compelled the president to ask for disbandment of vigilantism,” he lamented.
The stakeholders’ forum on the Vigilantism Bill, where Dr Antwi-Danso made the call, was organised by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
It was to solicit
stakeholders’ view on the Vigilantism and Related Offences Bill, 2019, for
which the House was recalled during the vacation for an emergency sitting, but
which consideration was deferred for further consultations.
The object of the bill is to disband political party vigilante groups and proscribe acts of vigilantism which has been defined as “the act of taking the law into one’s own hands and attempting to enact justice according to one’s own understanding of right and wrong”.
According to the security analyst, “Act 29 of the Criminal Code of 1960 has enough laws to deal with any act of lawlessness. The need to strengthen and enforce laws to deal with all manner of persons who act against them” and questioned whether “we really need a bill or rather beef up lower side of laws to be able to tackle criminality, I think the criminal code is so comprehensive all the things can be subsumed under it, however, lack of institutional capacity or will is making vigilantism thrive,” Dr Antwi-Danso pointed out.
Josephine Nkrumah, the Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), cautioned that recent terrorist attacks in neigbouring Burkina Faso, was a strong signal to deal with vigilantism, since it got support from terrorism.
“Political parties that sponsor or engage in vigilantism should be banned from taking part in elections. Growing youth unemployment is the cause of vigilantism, body building groups have become sources for recruiting political vigilantes,” she warned.