(OPINION) Lawyer Sammy Darko expresses an opinion on Umaru Sanda’s incident

On the matter of vehicle searches by police. Let’s first read the laws for ourselves, then we can assess what happened to  journalist #umaru

The applicable law is the Criminal Procedure Act ( Act 30). Same is reproduced in the  Ghana Police Service Standard Operating  Procedures, 2016

Section 93—Search without a Warrant in Certain Cases where Articles are Being Conveyed, Etc.

Whenever a police officer has REASONABLE  cause to believe that any article which has been stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained, or in respect of which a criminal offence has been, is being, or is about to be committed, is being conveyed, or is concealed or carried on any person in a PUBLIC PLACE, or is concealed or contained in any package in a public place, for the purpose of being conveyed, then and in any such case, if the police officer considers that the special exigencies of the case so require, he may without a warrant or other written authority apprehend, seize, and search any such person, package, or article, and may thereupon take possession of and detain such article together with the package, if any, containing it, and may also arrest any person conveying, concealing, or carrying the same as aforesaid.

Section 8—Search of Arrested person.

(3) All searches shall be made with STRICT DECENCY and whenever it is necessary to cause a woman to be searched, the search shall be made by another woman.

(4) The right to search an arrested person does not include the right to examine his private person.

Ghana Police Service Standard Operating Procedures

1.2. Police officers shall respect and protect human dignity, maintain and uphold rights of all persons.

1.3. Police officers shall perform their duties without partiality and discrimination to all persons.

1.4. Police officers shall treat suspects as innocent persons, politely, respectfully and professionally.

NUMBER: GPS – SP009-15

2.3. Guidelines for conducting vehicle searches

a. The vehicle must be located out of other vehicular traffic

b. The area must be secured; all suspects must be under control

c. Call for back up to assist when necessary

d. Any crowd that has gathered must be under control

e. An officer should search at any given time

f. Additional police personnel must be available to assist and maintain control while one
officer searches

2.3.1. Information to be recorded

a. When a vehicle is searched, the record shall contain,
i. A complete physical description of the vehicle – make, model, color, number of
doors etc
ii. Chassis number, manufacture number, year of manufacture, registration plate,
engine number, owners name and address
iii. Physical damage to the vehicle, exterior, interior etc

2.3.2. Equipment
a. When conducting a search the following equipment is needed:
i. GLOVES to protect your hands and to prevent leaving prints on items of
ii. A flashlight
iii. Evidence bags and marking material for any items recovered/seized
iv. Small tools (screw drivers, knife etc.)

2.3.5. Vehicle used to transport drugs or contraband
a. You must be careful not to stick yourself with needles or be cut by razor blades or other items
b. It is recommended to have a drug dog if available, to go over the car first before you search
c. Plan the police response around the safety of the victim, the neighbours and the police personnel

By: Lawyer Sammy Darko

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