The constitution says that any person who is arrested, restricted, or detained shall be informed immediately, in a language that he understands, on the reasons of his arrest, restriction or detention and of a right to a lawyer of his choice.

The important aspect of this is the fact that the person being arrested should know why he is being arrested. If the policeman arresting him informs him of the reason of his arrest albeit in a language not understood by the person, it has the same effect as if he has not been informed of the reason of his arrest.

Many times the police have made an arrest of persons by simply telling them they were under arrest, without proffering the reasons for the arrest.  At times, the policeman may simply explain the reason in Twi, English, or Ga for instance, without asking the person being arrested whether or not he understood the language being used. Any person who is arrested in this manner stands a good chance of being released from prison or custody by a court because the proper process or procedure for arrest was not followed.

I understand that it is not in every situation that a person being arrested will be informed immediately of the reason for his arrest. Take the situation where police arrest an armed robber through serious gun battle, the police cannot inform the armed robber in the heat of exchange of bullets why he is being arrested. However, the law requires that as soon as practicable, that armed robber should be informed as to why he is being arrested. This also implies that the person arresting, should not assume that the one he is arresting knows the reason why he is being arrested. Many a time, people that the public may perceive as having committed a crime may be let loose by the court because of such technicalities as we have discussed supra. When that happens, people are outraged and often blame the court or lawyers of some complicity. The truth, however, is that the court may never go into the substance of any matter if at the very periphery, procedures, as enshrined in the constitution, are not adhered to.

As part of the information, the person being arrested should also be entitled to a lawyer. The right to counsel /lawyer is the fundamental right of every citizen. Many people do not know that they are entitled to a lawyer in any case that they have, because the law presumes that you are innocent regardless of the circumstance of your arrest. Thus the man who was reported in the papers to have killed his own mother is entitled to a lawyer just as the other who was alleged to have raped an imbecile. The perception of a person’s guilt or otherwise is not conditioned precedence to a person’s right to a lawyer.

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