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Stop unjustified police swoops on unemployed youth – CSO

Crime prevention advocacy organization Crime Check Foundation (CCF) has appealed to the police to desist from arresting and detaining unemployed youths over inexplicable reasons.

Addressing the press in Accra on a ‘Decriminalization of Vagrancy Laws’ project findings, the Chief Executive Officer of the CCF, Ibrahim Oppong Kwarteng, revealed that “police continue to organize unjustified swoops on homeless, unemployed youths”.

He explained that this was a major complaint made to CCF by some young people in the Ejisu Municipality. According to them, the police, without any justifiable reason, regularly round and lock them up for days.

Bemoaning the implications of these unjustified swoops on the prison population and fundamental human rights, Oppong Kwarteng stressed that the approach of the police “must stop as it affects social and economic lives and increases poverty and vulnerability of the poor”.

“CCF expects that as the police seek to ensure the safety of all of us, their operations must be intelligence-led to avoid human right abuses that aggravate the economic and social lives of these poor and voiceless persons,” he added.

Oftentimes, district assemblies pass bylaws to regulate various activities within their jurisdictions.

A breach of the bylaws attracts hefty fines that vagrants are unable to pay and eventually end up in prison.

A vagrant is a person without a settled home or regular work who wanders from place to place and lives by begging or hawking on the streets.

CCF and other organisations are embarking on a one-year ‘Decriminalization of Vagrancy Laws’ programme to help abolish such laws.

The project was rolled out in 12 local government assemblies in three regions- Greater Accra, Ashanti and Central Region-, to sensitise vagrants on their rights, responsibility and bylaws.

The overall goal of the project is to create an enabling environment for homeless/vagrants and other poor persons to know, claim and exercise their rights to end the criminalization of poverty in Ghana.

It seeks to increase the knowledge of citizens on the bylaws of 12 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to reduce harassment, arrests, fines and imprisonments of poor and voiceless persons under the MMDA bylaws.

The project will run from May 2021 to May 2022.

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