The Ghana Police Service says that it has taken measures to ensure that its personnel on operations in-country or on United Nations Missions uphold the high standards already set internationally, by the service.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Today, the Director-General of the Public Affairs of the Ghana Police, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) David Ecloo said that the police administration condemns in no uncertain terms, the actions of its personnel recently in UN operations in South Sudan, if they are confirmed to be culpable to the allegations.
The Ghana Police Service has been involved in United Nations peacekeeping operations over the years but because of the high demand and performance of officers, there was the need and hence the request to send formed police unit (FPU) to South Sudan for peacekeeping.
FPUs operate and move in contingents or groups and are slightly armed (unlike other police who operate individually) and they are trained to offer protection to persons who have been displaced and on UN peacekeeping purposes, they protect UN personnel and properties.
In February 2017, records have it that the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), sent a “note verbal” through Ghana’s Permanent Mission to the Ghana Police Service administration, Accra to make a report of sexual misconduct against the Ghana Police FPU contingent of about 46 personnel, out of the overall police contingent of 140.
ACP Ecloo disclosed that when the issue broke, the police administration sent a fact-finding team from Ghana to South Sudan and to admonish the troops to be loyal to the UN Command.
The UN further outlined two procedures to the FPU contingent as to how they were going to deal with the allegations; ie, to use “administrative or collective repatriation” (where all 46 of the FPU would be repatriated to Ghana, since the “sins” of the 12 would have to affect all the contingent) and for investigations to continue on the twelve suspects, by the Mission.
Thus, the FPU contingent have been collectively repatriated to Ghana since June 5, 2018 and would be deployed to their respective regular police duties after their 2 weeks vacation leave, whiles the culpability of the 12 is determined by the UN.
If proven culpable by the UN investigations, the guilty policemen would forfeit any opportunity to participate in future UN operations, in addition to any other disciplinary measure that the administration may instigate against its offending personnel.
“It must be stated explicitly that, Ghana Police’s UN Peacekeeping operations in South Sudan in still operation and what happened is deemed by both the UNMISS and the Ghana Police administration as isolated cases and not widespread, and that the general contingent is executing its duties with the utmost professionalism”, Mr Ecloo added.
He finally said that the police is enforcing internal measures to ensure that the isolated issues do not reoccur.
Furthermore, the police administration gave its tacit support to the UN’s investigations into the issues alleged which actually concern twelve (12) policemen out of the total 46 FPU personnel and has promised to use the administration’s procedures to enforce correction and discipline to maintain its high I!age internationally.
It would be recalled that the U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan recalled a Ghanaian police unit working at one of its protection camps while the Mission continues with investigations of allegations that some of them were involved in sexual abuse.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan said it had asked the 46-member unit to return to the capital Juba from its Protection of Civilians site in Wau, northwest of Juba, after an investigation was launched into a complaint that members of the unit were having sexual relations with women living at the camp.
UNMISS said in a statement that its head, David Shearer, and other mission leaders were briefed about the initial investigation and a decision was made to withdraw the unit from the site.
“The information received indicates that some members of the FPU (Formed Police Unit) allegedly engaged in transactional sex. This is a clear breach of the U.N. and UNMISS Code of Conduct which prohibits sexual relationships with vulnerable individuals, including all beneficiaries of assistance,” the statement said.
“UNMISS has informed U.N. headquarters in New York of the allegations, which in turn notified the Member State that the matter was being investigated by the United Nations. There is no indication that this behavior is more widespread within the Mission.”
South Sudan, which won independence from Sudan in 2011, descended into civil war in 2013 months after President Salva Kiir fired his deputy Riek Machar. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and a third of the population have fled their homes.
The United Nations has six civilian protection sites across the country, housing some 204,501 people.
UNMISS comprises over 17,000 peacekeeping personnel including 13,000 soldiers and 1500 police officers
By Kofi Ampeah-Woode