HUMAN RIGHTS, ARMED ROBBER AND THE LAW
I am not a lawyer and so I would not pretend to be one. But today I’m tempted to delve into this grey area. Before I do that, let me make some observations. First of all, I have been a victim of armed robbery and burglary on more than one occasion. And I find it very difficult to come to terms with those human rights lawyers who have been seen or heard attempting to defend suspected armed robbers who are killed by police in shoot outs.
Over the years, we have heard media reports in which the police have come under severe criticisms over their handling of ‘suspected’ armed robbers. Some of those ‘suspected’ armed robbers in some cases have engaged the police in shoot outs in an attempt to clamp them down. When this happens, sometimes some police officers as well as some of the armed robbers equally lose their lives in the process.
Let me recount an armed robbery incidence which happened in one of the West African countries. In the said armed robbery, a luxurious bus was intercepted and all passengers were ordered to alight. There was screening. The criterion for the separation was the payment of tithe. Those who pay tithe were segregated from those who do not pay. In the end, those who did not have anything in exchange for their dear lives were made to lie in the street. The driver of the bus was ordered to run over them. Horrible! Isn’t it? It was real! Why not consider this one as well: Armed robbers hijacked a bus. They checked every passenger on board for valuables. A search on a university student on the bus revealed an ATM card. The assumption of the armed robbers was that this student was smart because instead of carrying on him physical cash, he chose to put his money in his bank account so that he could withdraw it upon arrival at his destination. The aggrieved commander of the gang asked him if he had ever had an experience with armed robbers. The guy said no. the commander demanded a jack knife from one of his gang, asked the student to stretch out his hand. He cut off one of the fingers and dropped it inside his pocket.
I have heard and read in the media instances in which police officers are killed in some of the shoot outs with armed robbers. But I never for once heard the same human right lawyers coming to the defense of the deceased police officers. Or is it the case that the armed robber has the right to kill including the police who are to provide security for us? Meanwhile, anytime the police succeeded in, whether by accident, killing the suspected armed robbers then we hear the human rights lawyers raising their objections. Let me ask a few questions here: do these human rights lawyers have relatives in the police service? Have they ever been robbed before? What is self-defense when you come under armed robbery attack? The laws of Ghana do not encourage possession of arms and ammunitions as we have in the US, for example. So if you are not an armed robber, why do you have to possess AK47 weapon and as it were, open fire on the police on suspicion that they are chasing after you? What I do know is that a citizen can possess only certain type of gun which must be registered.
I am not in any way suggesting that armed robbers, just like any of us do not have human rights. However, I think we need to be more realistic in dealing with issues of this nature rather than this knee-jerk approach often resorted to in the name of human right. This issue of human rights here and there lacks some amount of substance in my estimation. I don’t think those human rights champions would have been coming to the defense of armed robbers if they have ever had any encounter with armed robbery incidence before.
I stand to be educated. Does law and conscience have any correlation? Is there any theory like that? Even if any such thing exists, I think conscience should supersede.
The police service as a human institution has its challenges but does not make them a bad one entirely. We may not like some of the things they do but to a very large extent they are doing well in some aspects in the performance of their legitimate duties.
How can I toil so much for a long time to gain something only for someone to use a few minutes to deny me of such a thing at a gun point for me to go smiling because that person has more human rights than I do! Do I have to wait when it is quite clear my attacker is armed, even if I have the means to defend myself? I must defend myself; unless I don’t have a gun. On the basis of this logic, I vehemently disagreed with the human rights lawyers in their attempt to defend the indefensible. I can only support them if it were the case that the police gunned down unarm suspected robbers. So we need to draw a distinction between armed suspected robbers and unarm suspected robber so that when the latter is killed in a police raid, and then we can raise human rights issues. Until then, let us allow the police to perform their legitimate duties and clear our society off any such group of persons who pose nothing more than a threat to us.
I really don’t know the motive behind the rise of human rights champions to the defense of armed robbers whenever they are shot dead by the police. I guess they are by their action supporting activities of this gang, and if this is true, then I think it is most unfortunate.
Let us call spade a spade. Armed robbers kill and they deserve to be killed too. This is what I will support any time any day!