Judge: Police Have No Mandate To Prosecute

Mr Akwasi Oppong-Fosu(seated third right),Minister of Environment,Science,Technology and Innovation in a  group photograph with the participants.Photo.Ebo GormanAn Appeal Court Judge, Justice Samuel Marful-Sau, has said that the police have no mandate to prosecute cases in court.

He said the constitution mandates the Attorney General’s (A-G) Department to either prosecute cases, or delegate state institutions to train their officers to prosecute on its behalf.

Justice Marful-Sau said this in Accra yesterday at a workshop for 40 officers of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who were being trained at the Ghana School of Law,to prosecute environmental offences.

He said the vacuum created which had made it necessary for the police to prosecute people in court, should be filled by officers from state institutions who were trained in legal matters for prosecution.

Justice Marful-Sau, therefore, said that the training of the EPA officers was a step in the right direction and further urged other institutions to follow the example of the EPA.

Executive Instrument (EI) nine of 1999, empowers the AG’s department to prosecute and also to delegate power to state institutions to train their officers to prosecute their cases.

When contacted by The Ghanaian Times on the issue, the head of the Legal Department of the Ghana Police Service, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Frank Coffie, confirmed the Appeal Court Judge’s statement.

He explained that Article 88 of the constitution mandates only the A-G’s Department to initiate, conclude or discontinue prosecution of cases.

However, he was quick to add that the A-G’s Department under the same law, had the power to delegate other institutions to prosecute cases on its behalf, for which reason an Executive Instrument has mandated the police to prosecute cases at the lower courts.

He said the police could only prosecute cases at the magistrate and circuit courts, but a police officer who is a lawyer, would need an official permission from the A-G’s Department to prosecute cases at the higher courts.

A former staff of the A-G’s Department, who pleaded for anonymity also confirmed this to The Ghanaian Times, and recommended a review of the law.

The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Mr. Akwasi Opong-Fosu, who opened the workshop, commended the EPA for the initiative, and expressed the hope that it would address the environmental challenges confronting the nation.

He said the country needs to protect its environment from people who dump refuse in- discriminately, and conduct themselves in a manner that poses a threat to the environment.

The Minister said if such behaviours were not checked, it would go a long way to deplete the ozone layer and pollute the environment, leading to lot of implications including diseases and deaths.

Mr. Oppong-Fosu, therefore, called for a specialised court that would handle environmental cases to ensure that, people and organisations comply with regulations and laws.

He said his visit last week to some parts of Accra showed gross violation of environmental laws by some people, who did not comply with the rules and regulations spelt out in the statute books..

“To this end, I have directed the EPA to investigate those infractions and enforce the law. I have also discussed with them about compliance and enforcement of mining regulations, especially the pollution of water bodies,” he said.

He called on stakeholders to join the fight against environmental degradation, to ensure that sanity prevails in the country.

He said the judiciary plays a significant role as a stakeholder in protecting the environment, therefore, it should not relent in its efforts to ensure compliance.

By Charles Amankwa

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