Weak law enforcement: Reason for ‘lucrative’ land guard activities
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Weak law enforcement: Reason for ‘lucrative’ land guard activities

It is sad that many people have died protecting their bonafide land and other properties.

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After land guard activities were criminalised by the passage of the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, land guards continue to terrorise, murder and harm citizens with impunity. 

The Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, 2019 (Act 999) is a law that aims to curb vigilantism and related offences in the country. The law was passed in response to growing concerns about the activities of vigilante groups, particularly land guard activities.

The law aims to promote public safety, prevent political violence and maintain law and order in Ghana. There are so many Ghanaians with horrifying and frustrating experiences of land and property acquisition.

Citizens with Land Title certificates and court judgements are the most frustrated possessing their lands. They face constant harassments from land guards and other dishonest persons.

Because most property owners are workers and only get time to visit their lands on weekends and public holidays, these land guards have the luxury of time to cause unlawful damage to property, reselling to unsuspecting persons and protecting them to develop day and night. 

Rightful

The rightful owners after realising the crime committed on their property, lodge complaints with the police. After they furnish the Police with valid and necessary documents to justify their incontrovertible ownership, they get more frustrated as a result of police inaction, ineptitude and lack of courage.

Instances when the judiciary have written directly to the police to enforce court orders, such orders are either blatantly refused or partially complied with. These actions of the police leave property owners with no hope, after exhausting all due processes.

The rule of law is a fundamental principle in good governance and jurisprudence that states that all individuals, institutions and entities are subject to, and accountable, to a set of laws that are:

• Clearly defined
• Publicly known
• Equally applied
• Independent of personal opinions or biases
• Enforced by an impartial and fair authority

In essence, the rule of law ensures that everyone is treated equally and without prejudice, and that the law is supreme over all individuals and institutions. It is a cornerstone of democratic societies, promoting justice, stability and protection of individual rights and freedoms.

Key

Some key aspects of the rule of law include:

• Legal certainty and predictability
• Equality before the law
• Accountability and transparency
• Separation of powers (legislative, executive, and judicial)
• Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms
• Access to justice and fair trial
• Supremacy of the law over all individuals and institutions

The rule of law is essential for maintaining social order, promoting economic development and ensuring that power is exercised in a responsible and accountable manner.

Article 200 of the 1992 Constitution and the Police Service Act, Act 350(1970) mandate and cloth the police with powers to protect life and property. From the foregoing, the buck stops with the police in ensuring that land guard activities are curtailed.

The police should confront the activities of land guards, with the same alacrity, force and might as they do with robbery and other violent crimes. Land guards are armed with various offensive weapons.

Furthermore, the police should be courageous to enforce court and judiciary orders without fear to restore confidence in citizens. In effect, the police must provide the needed security and protection to citizens who prove without any equivocation their ownership of land and other properties.

Finally, the police should be constantly reminded of  the fifth principle of policing by Sir Robert Peel, which states that, " the police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to  public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to the law'.

The police should be impartial and neutral in enforcing the law, and must not pander to public opinion or political pressure.
   
The writer is a Law Enforcement Officer

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