Mob justice is when a person or a group of persons suspected to be criminal[s] or a driver who knocked down a pedestrian is beaten by a group of people or crowd with cement blocks, clubs, stones, machetes, or anything they can lay their hands on. In some cases the alleged criminal dies in the process due to excessive beaten or they are set on fire using old car tire or liquid fuel. Mob justice also known as ‘instant justice’ or ‘jungle justice’ occurs in various towns and cities in Ghana.
According to the laws of Ghana, that is chapter 5 of 1992 constitution, article 13 and clause 1 of article 13, this act is illegal and intolerable, but it occurs at an increasing rate. People who engage in this act are usually onlookers or people passing by or an organized group also known as “community vigilantes” or ‘community volunteers’ whose aim is to protect the community from criminals.
In Ghana, it is not only alleged criminals that sometimes face mob justice, people suspected to be witches, wizards, adulterers, drivers and homosexuals sometimes find themselves in such situations. Due to the lack of trust in the law enforcement system in Ghana people turn to take the law into their own hands and deal with these alleged criminals their own way.
One of the disturbing features of mob justice in Ghana is the growing threat of brutality as a way of dealing with suspected wrongdoers like thieves, pick-pockets, armed robbers, rapist, a driver who knocked down a pedestrian in a society. This wicked approach of seeking justice in Ghana undermines the rule of law and the administration of justice in the country.
Mob justice also known as instant justice is an instant infliction of bodily and mental pain, suffering or death on a person arrested, or physically overpowered as punishment for his/her alleged wrong as he/she is so subdued.
THE EFFECTS OF MOB JUSTICE
The society which witness the brutality, especially kids among will copy and will never fear to share blood anytime and in future, it becomes hereditary for generations to practice it.[it provide a stereotypical impression to the society and its citizens eg. Denkyera-Obuasi and Nima-Accra].
Killing of suspected criminal[s] ceased, prevent, hitch and denied the police from investigating or tracing the origin or the escaped criminal[s] and bring them to book.
Killing of suspected criminals is a breach of the constitution and rule of law in Ghana, chapter 5 of 1992 constitution, article 13 and clause 1 of article 13.
It can generate tribal or intercity war, like late Major M.Mahama case will be war between Northerners vs. people of Denkyera-Obuasi.
An innocent person may be killed or judged in place of the original culprit, as the mob will be rushing on speed just to beat or kill, the anxiousness will lead them beating and killing anybody at all.
In a case where the criminal[s] escape he/she may spot one of the mob and kill him/her whenever the criminal[s] gets the opportunity or may vandalized property of the spotted mob person or in otherwise kill his/her family member[s] in place.
Involuntary killing a pedestrian by a driver is not a life for life judgment, but this might have been caused by a brake failure or a sudden mechanical fault generated from the vehicle, therefore killing the driver and burning the vehicle is not lawful.
Because this mob justice has been endorsed by many Ghanaian societies, anybody at all who want problem for another person can easily scream or shout on her boyfriend or customer or a daughter’s boyfriend thief!!, thief!! [twi: awioo!!, Ga:julor!!] And the society will just run after whoever hands may be pointing to beat and kill without asking for reasons. I have seen someone angry warning the opponent, if you joke I will shout on you thief for the society to beat you for me.
Reasons for mob justice
From various research and surveys, people attributed the action of mob justice to;
The legal system being slow and the courts adjourning cases when there is empirical evidence on a crime committed. The delays in the court process of dealing with alleged criminals when there is hard core evidence does not sit well with the public, hence they prefer to handle criminals their own way than to hand them over to police. The people are usually impatient when it comes to the justice delivery system in Ghana.
Punishment given to criminals does not deter them and others from committing crimes. In order to serve as a deterrent to others from committing crimes in a community the public thinks apprehended criminals do not face long jail terms or severe punishment. Hence, they seek to mob justice to send a message to other criminals in the community and the victims as well.
The police and the judicial systems are seen to be corrupt, therefore criminal are not dealt with properly and they are later found walking on the streets freely. The public believes that these criminals have acquaintance with the police and when they are apprehended, they are left to go within a short time. With this lack of trust in the police, people in communities turn to take matters into their own hands in order to seek justice for themselves.
When people do not know what happens to convicted criminals and also when sentences given to them are not reasonable.
With the lack of information and transparency from law enforcement, the people prefer to deal with suspected persons themselves than to hand them over to the police.
In the journal Implication of mob justice practice among communities in Ghana a survey conducted by Ernest Adu-Gyamfi on 1,000 people including males and females in the Kumasi Metropolis which is the capital city of the Ashanti Region, consist of 20 suburbs and people who are 18 years and above. 51% of the respondents in the survey have secondary education with 23.7% have tertiary education. In response to the causes of mob justice, 47.9% strongly agree that delay in justice is a major cause of the action in the metropolis, 45% agree and 4% disagree with that claim. With the aspect of prolong police investigations as one of the causes of mob justice, 63.7% strongly agree and 30% agree.
81.2% of the respondent strongly agrees that they are not satisfied with the sentences sometimes emitted to convicted criminals and 18.8% strongly disagree with the dissatisfaction level of criminal sentence. On the claim of the judicial and police service being corrupt and being the cause of mod justice, 44.4% strongly agree and 55.6% strongly disagree. Also 79.5% strongly agree to mob justice serving as a deterrent to other criminals.
For the claim that people who involve in the act of mob justice are ignorant and not aware that their actions are illegal and strips of the fundamental human rights of the victims, 84.9% strongly disagree and 15.1%agree with this claim. With this assertion, perpetrators of this act are fully aware of the consequences of their actions but still engage in the act of mob justice.
Laws against mob justice
Mob Justice is a criminal offence pursuant to Act 29 of the Criminal Code of 1960 which covers the various aspect of mob justice.
Section 46 “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to suffer death”.
Section 47 “Whoever intentionally causes the death of another person by any unlawful harm is guilty of murder, unless his crime is reduced to manslaughter by reason of such extreme provocation, or other matter of partial excuse”.
Section 48 “Whoever attempts to commit murder shall be guilty of first degree felony”.
Section 69 “Whoever intentionally and unlawfully causes harm to any person shall be guilty of second degree felony”.
Section 84 “Whoever unlawfully assaults any person is guilty of a misdemeanor”.
Also Chapter 5 of the constitution of Ghana protects the fundamental human rights and freedoms of a person.
Article 13 states that “No person shall be deprived of his life intentionally except in the exercise of the execution of a sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence under the laws of Ghana of which he has been convicted”.
Article 15 talks about “RESPECT FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” and that;
“The dignity of all persons shall be inviolable”.
“No person shall, whether or not he is arrested, restricted or detained, be subjected to; torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; any other condition that detracts or is likely to detract from his dignity and worth as a human being”.
Article 19 requires FAIR TRIAL for;
“A person charged with a criminal offence is given a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court”.
“A person charged with a criminal offence is presumed to be innocent until he is proved or has pleaded guilty”.
All the above mentioned are legal provisions that protects suspected criminals from the act of mob justice or instant justice.
THE RULE OF LAW VS MOB JUSTICE
The 1992 constitution article 125 State and I quote:
Justice emanates from the people and shall be administered in the name of the republic by the judiciary which shall be independent and subject only to this constitution.
The judiciary truly administers justice on behalf of the people in a just, timely and equitable manner, then justice is served and the people become satisfied that a justice emanates from them that is fact.
The judiciary fails to administer justice on behalf of the people, then people become discontented and begin to doubt if justice truly emanates from them. Alternatively, to nullify, [‘the judiciary shall administer justice on behalf of the people’ the ‘Justice emanates from the people’ is withheld].
When citizens become suspicious that the judiciary system they entrust with the management of justice which emanates from them is not administering justice in their interest premised on fairness and timeliness, as the various videos and audios provided to the public by an investigative journalist Anas El-Meyaw Anas secretly captured judges accepting bribes before passing judgment. Then the natural response would be to withhold and administer their own justice, perception or reality.
GENERAL ASSESSMENT AND REMARKS
We must also admit that, as a society, we have failed badly to educate the people. It is worrying to think of what practically an institution like the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) is doing in the form of public education to let citizens understand some basic laws as well as rights and responsibilities.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR HUMAN RIGHTS IN 1992 CONSTITUTION?
However, several people in Ghana may have heard about Human Rights, but may not know what it means. Public awareness must be created to eradicate mob justice that has plagued our nation despite these clear laws. The government must start this awareness campaign in schools by educating the young once on the consequence of mob justice.
The government of Ghana must start educating people about Human Rights and the benefits of protecting these rights. The government must strengthen and improve the justice system of Ghana to avoid people from taking the law into their own hands. Political, traditional and religious leaders must start organizing people to meet and discuss issues of mob justice, and come up with ways demonstrating the significance of helping our justice system, as well as deterring people from taking the law into their own hands. The Ghana police service must be resourced and fully equipped to enable a rapid response whenever they are called upon to help eradicate crimes in our communities. There must also be a reliable emergency number of the police serve for people to call (instead of gathering angry young men and women to beat and kill suspected criminals) whenever there is a crime or suspected crime in the community. This may serve as a secure way of involving the entire community in assisting the police to curb violence and crime in the country.
THE SOCIETY HAS NO POWER TO JUDGE CRIMINAL[S]
It is only the court that has the power to order that the life of a person convicted of a criminal offence liable to be punished. Article 15 (1) stipulates that “the dignity of all persons shall be inviolable” (Constitution of Ghana, 1992). Clause 2 states that “no person shall, whether or not he is arrested, restricted or detained, be subjected to (a) torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; (b) any other condition that detracts or is likely to detract from his dignity and worth as a human being” (Constitution of Ghana, 1992).
Article 15 (3) of the Constitution also state that “a person who has not been convicted of a criminal offence shall not be treated as a convicted person and shall be kept separately from convicted persons” (Constitution of Ghana, 1992). Article 19 (2) (c) also states that, a person charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved or has pleaded guilty (Constitution of Ghana, 1992). These are clear and understandable provisions.
However, several people in Ghana may have heard about Human Rights, but may not know what it means.
Public awareness must be created to eradicate mob justice that has plagued our nation despite these clear laws. The government must start this awareness campaign in schools by educating the young once on the consequence of mob justice. The government of Ghana must start educating people about Human Rights and the benefits of protecting these rights. The government must strengthen and improve the justice system of Ghana to avoid people from taking the law into their own hands.
Political, traditional and religious leaders must start organizing people to meet and discuss issues of mob justice, and come up with ways demonstrating the significance of helping our justice system, as well as deterring people from taking the law into their own hands. The Ghana police service must be resourced and fully equipped to enable a rapid response whenever they are called upon to help eradicate crimes in our communities. There must also be a reliable emergency number of the police serve for people to call (instead of gathering angry young men and women to beat and kill suspected criminals) whenever there is a crime or suspected crime in the community. This may serve as a secure way of involving the entire community in assisting the police to curb violence and crime in the country.
CONCLUSION AND PROPOSAL
No one should ever think the judgment of the rule of law is not fair, but we should all have faith and trust in the law enforcement agencies in the country.
This mob justice has caused the nation by loosing innocent souls in every annual. In Takoradi one day a man driving a NISSAN Patrol ER5801-X called Mr. Sam, his wife was in the car with him believing the couple had a little dispute before living the house, at Effiakuma the man parked to buy some items by the road side, this his own wife started screaming help! help!
This man has kidnapped me and he is going to kill me. Immediately these Zongo boys just rushed and started beating this her own husband with objects, some of the mob were on the car vandalizing it tile one respected man in the Effiakuma society who happens to know this victim, was passing by and saw this guy been beating by these serious mob and intervene and rescued him, told them to take him to the police if they think he is a criminal, eventually the mob got to know that was his own wife.
Mob justice may not give a balanced judgment to the criminal, as the judgment may less or higher than the then said crime the culprit might have committed. Let us present any criminal[s] to the police station for the law to deal with them.
As the 1992 constitution categorically state that everyone has the rights to live. So when you involve in a mob instant justice you have also committed an offence or crime against the law and must be prosecuted.
REFERENCES; Amnesty International (2014) Human Rights Education Resources http://amnesty.org/en/human-rights-education
Asare, K. S. (2007, July 30). Linking Judicial Inefficiency to Mob Justice, Vigilantism and Spiritual Justice? The
Statesman, P7 & 9
Attafuah, K.A. (2008). Fighting Armed Robbery in Ghana. Accra: Ghana. The justice of Human Rights
Institute, Adjabeng Road, Tudu.
Awuni, A. (2007, July 28). Mob Justice is a crime. The Mirror, p35.General Assembly Resolution 49/184, 23
Ghana Statistical Service. (2012). 2010 Population and housing census: summary report of final results. Ghana
Statistical Service: Accra
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Opened for signature on Dec. 19, 1966; entered into force
on Mar. 23, 1976. U.N.G.A. Res. 2200 (XXI), 21 UN GAOR Supp. (No.16) 52, UN Doc. A/6316 (1967).
Government of Ghana, (1992). The Constitution of Ghana. Accra: Assembly of Ghana Publishing
Ministry of Local Government and Maks Publication & Media Services. (2006). Kumasi metropolis Available at
Neequaye, L. (2007, May 19). Mob Justice. The Mirror, p27
Plan of Action of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004), para. 2.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights. U.N.G.A. Res. 217A (III), 3(1) GAOR Res. 71, UN Doc. A/810 (1948);
AMBASSADORS AGAINST MOB JUSTICE.# just say stop.
Source: TunesAfrik.Com | AMBASSADOR ALEX TUTUNGAH | Ghana