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Instant Justice Deserves Instant Halting

The extensive condemnation of the lynching and burning of the corpse of Major Maxwell Adam Mahama, nationwide was not a rehearsed scenario. It was natural and spontaneous.

That is all about the relevance of the society. What is right is right and what is wrong is wrong. That is how the human race had lived on earth for all these years.

It is the peculiarity of the human race that makes the biggest difference between savagery and life in the animal kingdom.

That is why it is pretty unclear how a group of persons can take the life of another person for an alleged crime victim like Major Mahama did not commit.

Major Mahama, who was the Commander of a Military detachment, fighting illegal mining (galamsey), was killed by some folks from Denkyira Buase in the Central Region, who mistook him for an armed robber.

The mortal remains of the slain soldier was scene stripped naked on the social media, a dent that could not be reversed and could be a source of worry for family members, friends and sympathisers for generations.

Mr Paul Herzuah, a lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, speaking on the issue said there was no justification for any group of people to mete instant justice to any person at all for an alleged crime.

He said the future looked bleak for the country if cases of mob justice were not curtailed.

It is very disturbing how society adorns itself in civility but could carry out instant justice.

Instant justice or mob action likens our existence to animals or a lawless society without capable institutions.

Article 11, clause 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which is usurped in our 1992 constitution, Article 19, clause 2 states that:

“Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.”

This provision makes it clear the uncertainty surrounding an accused person until being proven guilty by court of competent jurisdiction.

Speaking to an authority in legal matters who spoke to the Ghana News Agency on conditions of anonymity, he said no one could go on a killing spree in search of justice, as persons subjected to this horrible act might be innocent people.

He said an individual could only be proven guilty of a crime by the court and no individual had the right to usurp this power.

Article 125, clause 1 of the 1992 Constitution stipulates that: “Justice emanates from the people and shall be administered in the name of the Republic by the Judiciary, which would be independent and subject only to this constitution”.

This in succinct means only the court has the mandate to administer “justice” or punish crime.

It is therefore to note that no entity whether an angry mob or any individual aside the court has the dictate to punish criminals.

Article 19, clause 6 of our constitution cautions that, “No penalty shall be imposed for a criminal offence that is severer in degree or description than the maximum penalty that could have been imposed for that offence at that time when it was committed”.

For instance according to Korang (2014) “it is unconstitutional for a person suspected of stealing- which is only a second degree felony to be lynched”.

The authority in legal matters explained that “anybody who punishes somebody more than the extent of the offence has not been just to the person”.

When an innocent person is lynched, what do we do thereafter? Resuscitate him or her?

It is not also appropriate to dwell on limited evidence to presume who a person actually is and act upon mere presumptions.

Without thorough investigations and a court ruling on the innocence or guilt of a person with regard to an incident, no one else has the right to deem them guilty.

That person only remains a suspect until proven guilty or innocent.

All speculations outskirt the court are just mere allegations and we cannot take human lives based on allegations.

We do not only kill innocent individuals through mob action but also cripple the police’s ability to trace possible criminal counterparts or comprehend a criminal act fully.

The murderers of Major Mahama did not just kill an innocent person; they killed a son, a friend and a brother to many people.

These people obstructed justice, disrespected the 1992 Constitution, the courts and the justice system and as such deserve to be punished by the laws of the land.

Korang (2014) could not have said it better, “instant justice [mob action] is a criminal method of punishing criminals”, and this needs to be halted immediately.

By Jonas Danquah

Classic Ghana

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