The Ghanaian Society has over the years frowned upon “mob justice” because it is deemed as a barbaric and cruel means of sentencing suspicious and innocent lives to death.
The country had already recorded countless number of mob attacks which were basically motivated by a twin culture of resentment on the part of victims of robbery towards suspected criminals and lawlessness, as a result of the steady decline of the confidence reposed in our judicial system.
Mob justice, also called, mob action or instant justice comes about when a suspected criminal, who finds himself in the grips of an irate mob, suffers flogging, lynching, stoning, stripping naked, as well as being set ablaze with all kinds of mutilations and humiliations to their (suspects) death.
This menace has eventually come to gain traction, depriving suspected criminals of their basic rights to at least be allowed to be heard in the court of competent jurisdiction. This is in clear affront to what has been enshrined in the 1992 constitution of Ghana with respect to one’s fundamental human rights. Not only does it reduce the concept of Rule of Law to its lower estates, but in fact, a kind of embarrassment to our hard-earned democracy as crowd of angry citizens deliberately flout the Laws by way of delivering their own ”justice” without resorting to the court of Law. This undoubtedly is the most criminal way of meting out punishment to suspects who may or may not even have any idea of the very offence that has been suspected of them.
Many Ghanaians have eventually come to realize the injustices in instant justice with the prediction that the country is likely to suffer a very serious democratic defect, since it has the greater tendency of drifting judicial powers from the judiciary as one arm of government into the hands of people who believe that mutilating a suspect to his death is the best punishment for a theft case, if not checked.
It is an undeniable fact that mob justice will soon take a posture that is beyond doubt that, seeking justice with no recourse to the court of law seems better, however, stringent measures need to be adhered to, with rigorous enforcement in our quest for solutions to curb the menace. To fight this culture of lawlessness, there should be an attitudinal change as to how criminal offences are dealt with in the country, and chief among the solutions are the following.
First and foremost, there is the need for a strict devotion to a constitutional Rule of Law. It must be stressed that, mob justice is a typical criminal offence, spelled out in the Criminal Act of Ghana (Act 29, section 46). The Rule of Law, which is currently more of a mere theory than a practice is, a justice delivery concept that advocates for the Superiority of the Law to every citizen. In the light of this, all citizens are equal among themselves and on no grounds should the right of a person, regardless of social status, political, religious and/or ethnic background be infringed upon.
In order to curb the culture countrywide, stakeholders in justice delivery need to work hand-in-hand to ensure there is a strict adherence to the Rule of Law where due reverence is given to the law in a way that, whoever deviates from the dictates of the laws, whether a culprit or a victim will be made to face the full rigors of it.
Secondly, the Rule of Law will be defective if we fail to recognize the importance of the independence of the judiciary. Recent happenings affirm that our judicial system is full of insecurities, bribery, corruption and all other forms of external influences which eventually end up perverting justice. The judiciary needs to be equipped with all the necessary logistics, security and power in order to avert dishonesty and all forms of negative attitudes to work on the parts of people who are in the positions to administer justice.
Next to Judicial Independence must be the swift delivery of justice. Justice delayed, as it is always said is justice denied. In our parts of the world, the simplest case of robbery may last for a lifetime. Although there should be some ample time for prosecutors to prepare their evidence, robbery is one such issue with self-evidence, as the culprit is very likely to plead guilty even before the sentence is pronounced. Prolonged investigations are of no relevance and therefore, an abrupt halt to inordinate delays in our judicial processes will drastically reduce mob justice. Our justice delivery system in this regard needs to be very swift so as to regain the declining confidence reposed in our Law Courts.
Finally, laws on armed robbery and murder as criminal offences must be amended to meet stiffer penalties as first degree felony punishments allow. Our system of criminal punishment is very largely subject to the discretion of the court. In view of this, most judges in their own discretions impose minimal sentences on criminals which in this way, incur the displeasure of the general public. With these kinds of resentments, the society is forced to resort to mob justice as the best alternative to dispensing justice, which is a very serious retard to the growth of the Rule of Law and our democracy at large.
To conclude, it must be emphasized that, mob justice serves no useful purpose in the society and therefore very difficult to believe that it is the best deterrent measure to fight crime. It is in fact, a serious threat to our democracy, an infringement on the rights of the individual and a complete defect to the supremacy and the efficacy of the laws of the land.
It is therefore imperative for the media to educate the public on the repercussions of taking the laws into one’s own hands. Both the judiciary and the police must be fair in all their dealings by way of eschewing all forms of corruption that lead to the outright perversion of justice. However, all these cannot effectively curb the menace without stiffer and tougher punishments being meted out to culprits. We must understand that, the survival of our nation depends on ourselves, and so there must be a prompt response to this urgent call for all and sundry to stand up and save our dear nation from such societal deviance and other acts of violence and lawlessness as we look forward to building a healthy nation.
Article By: Kofi Doe Lawson | Hbtvghana.com