The Right to Fair Treatment by Officials

You have the right to be treated fairly and reasonably by administrative bodies and officials. You also have the right to seek redress via the law for any mistreatment you have received.

Mercy and Robert had been saving their money for several years, and finally had enough to buy some land. They found a plot that they could afford, and started negotiating with the owner to buy it.

They had heard stories of unscrupulous people selling land that wasn’t theirs to sell, and other people selling land to two buyers simultaneously, so they were very cautious. They paid a deposit for the land, and then put up a sign saying that anyone with a claim to the land should call the phone number on the sign.

Robert soon had a phone call from someone who claimed to have bought the land from the same seller four days after Mercy and Robert had paid their deposit. They were upset but not terribly surprised, and so they engaged a lawyer and arranged a meeting with the seller and the other buyer to work out who actually now owned the land.

The seller did not show up to the meeting, but no-one was very surprised. Even though Mercy and Robert had the prior claim on the land (by four days), the other buyer refused to relinquish his claim, so the matter had to be settled in court. On their lawyer’s advice, they approached the Lands Commission and asked for a map of the plot, so that they would have evidence of the location of the land. The mapping officer said that his equipment was not working, and they would have to come back next week when he could actually produce a map for them.

Having the prior claim, Mercy and Robert were confident that they would win the court case, but the other buyer had an ace up his sleeve. He had approached the same mapping officer the day before Mercy and Robert. He dashed (given a bribe to) the officer to give him a map and to obstruct Mercy and Robert.

Despite Mercy and Robert having the earlier claim, they had no evidence to show that they had paid for the land, whereas the other buyer was able to produce his map. The court therefore found that he was the rightful owner of the land.

This is not fair treatment by an official, and amounts to a violation of their rights.

There has been a number of recent cases in the news of police brutality in Ghana.

In one case, an allegedly intoxicated police officer shot and killed an innocent man, Kwaku Asante. Afterwards he claimed with the support of his colleagues, that Asante was an armed robber. However, using eyewitness testimony, this was shown to be untrue, In this story, Kwaku Asante’s right to fair treatment by officials was violated. The police officer also violated the victim’s right to life as Asante was killed without being sentenced to death under Ghanaian law.