By Augustine Ehikioya
In what appeared like increasing diplomatic row, the Ghana Police Service (GPS) has faulted the tweet of the British High Commissioner in the country.
The High Commissioner had tweeted over the arrest of the convener of #FixTheCountry movement, Oliver Barker-Vormawor.
But the Ghana Police Service, however, noted that the Tweet has violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961.
It also explained that the Oliver Barker-Vormawor, who was earlier arrested for threatening the security of the State, has now been recently arrested for motor traffic offences.
These were contained in a 4-paged letter written by Ghana Police Service to the British High Commissioner. It was obtained by Security Watch Africa (SWA),
The letter written to the British High Commissioner by the Inspector General of Police, Dr. George Akuffo Dampare, was entitled “Police Administration’s Response To Your Tweet On Tuesday 17th May, 2022.”
It reads “The attention of the Ghana Police Service has been drawn to your tweet, which reads “Oliver Barker-Vormawor, convener of #FixTheCountry movement, arrested again, I understand for a motoring offence on his way to court. I’ll be interested to see where this goes…”
“Ordinarily, the Ghana Police Service would not have responded to comments such as yours, obviously made from either a biased or uninformed position.
“However, we have learnt from previous, painful experience that it has not been helpful to ignore such misguided, unwarranted, and biased comments intended to tarnish the reputation of the Ghana Police Service and that of our Country.
“What is more, we consider your tweet a violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 which enjoins diplomatic missions not to interfere in the internal affairs of their host country.
“Your Excellency, the fact that you used the phrase ‘arrested again’, we believe, must mean you were making reference to the previous occasions Mr. Barker Vormawor was arrested for threatening the security of the State, and recently for motor traffic offences. We intend therefore, to address both issues in this letter.”
The letter went on “Since you may be unaware of the charges against the person of interest in your tweet, we are happy to give you some background. Among other things, in February this year, Mr. Barker-Vormawor threatened the security of the State by categorically stating his intention to stage a coup d’etat and cause instability in the country if the Army, which he referred to as useless’, was unable to do so.
“These same threats have subsequently been repeated by Mr. Barker-Vormawor on his social media handles. In line with the laws of the Republic of Ghana, he was arrested and taken through due process and was granted bail by a court of competent jurisdiction. That matter is still pending before the law courts.
“On Tuesday 17th May, 2022, Mr. Barker-Vormawor was among other drivers who were arrested separately for road traffic offences. They were all arraigned before the courts, where some pleaded guilty, were convicted and paid their fines accordingly. However, this person pleaded not guilty, was granted bail by the Court and was released after fulfilling the bail conditions.”
It explained further “Against this backdrop and in view of the fact that he is not the only person who is being taken through due process for committing an offence in this country, it is difficult to understand why he is your only focus.”
“Are we to understand that you are concerned about the law enforcement process in Ghana or only as applied to your person of interest?,” the letter queried.
It added “We are not oblivious of how, as a country, Britain reveres its Army and continuously celebrates both serving and retired officers in the British Armed Forces. It might not be what you expect, but please be informed that as a country, Ghana similarly treasures its Police Service, the Armed Forces and all other security agencies and we are anxious to build these institutions into strong and revered pillars of society that perform their duties excellently.
“As our former colonial power and the source of our legal, judicial and criminal justice architecture and indeed, of our Police Service, we continue to look up to Britain among other countries for guidance with regard to how difficult situations are handled.”
The letter also noted that some leaders of faith-based organisations in Britain, who made pronouncements that were considered as national security threats, were “branded as terrorists, arrested, prosecuted and in some cases were extradited.
“This, we believe, your country did in its quest to safeguard the security of the state and ensure the sustenance of the peace the inhabitants enjoy.”
The letter asked the High Commissioner if the Ghanaian people do not also deserve a peaceful country like Britain.
It added “Maybe reflecting on these questions will help you appreciate our position on such matters:
“Are there instances in your country where people are permitted to openly threaten the security of the state with a coup? In instances where individuals have threatened the security of a state, does your criminal justice system celebrate such persons and urge them on to destabilise your country?
“As a Foreign Service Officer, even though you might not have personal experience, you doubtless have access to the records of the periods of unrest and coups in Ghana; are you really wishing on us, a return to those times?
“Are you able to direct us to instances in your country where citizens are permitted to insult, attack and incite your Army and other security apparatuses to destabilize the Country?
“Do people get arrested for traffic offences in your country? Is it the case that a person on his/her way to a British court cannot be pulled over for traffic offences or any other offences for that matter?
“Are you still persuaded, three days after your Tweet, that you were within the bounds of the Vienna Convention which regulates the conduct of diplomats in the countries in which they serve?
“Should you get involved in the domestic/internal affairs, especially security issues of the sovereign state in which you are serving as a diplomat? Do you know of any instances where Ghanaian diplomats in Britain have involved themselves in your internal affairs?
“Is there any particular reason why of all the people arrested daily for various offences in Ghana, you are especially interested in this person’s case? Is it the case that you don’t have confidence in our justice delivery, criminal justice system and our court processes as a whole?
“Do you know the number of Members of Parliament, Chief Executives and other high-profile Ghanaians who have been arrested and prosecuted for road traffic offences and have submitted themselves to due process? If you care to know, we will be delighted to share the list with you.
“Have the legally and internationally accepted limits associated with freedom of speech and association been stretched to the point where people can now say and act without regard to the sanctity, security and the very survival of a country? When it comes to such matters, are there any limits in place in your country?
“Are you interested in the number of lives lost to road accidents and the number of injured persons, as well as families who have become destitute as a result of such accidents, caused by the infractions of people like the person of interest to you?
“Have you taken note of the innovations being introduced by the Ghana Police Service in recent times to deepen discipline, law and order, as well as protect lives and property in this country? Are you interested that we are doing our best to get it right?,” it queried.
The letter went on to recommend a Ghanaian saying to the British High Commissioner that might guide her in her diplomatic engagements, “The saying goes: – “di wo fie asem- it means learn to keep within the limits of what concerns you.”