Ghana’s national police have been providing more information about the arrest yesterday of hundreds of Liberian refugees from the Buduburam Refugee Camp outside the capital, Accra. For nearly a month now, about two thousand women have been holding a sit-in protest to demand one thousand dollars each from United Nations Refugee Agency to help in repatriating them back to Liberia. But Ghanaian police moved in on Monday and arrested the protesting women.
Kwesi Ofori is public relations officer for the Ghana national police. He told VOA the police had to move in because the refugees’ continued protest violated Ghana’s Public Order Law and also posed a public safety threat.
“In Ghana, the Public Law order requests that whoever wanted to embark on demonstration should inform the police about the mission of the demonstration, an estimated of people that will be involved, the route to be used so that the police can provide security. Unfortunately, the Liberian refugees did not inform their local police. Aside that, the demonstration degenerated into lawlessness and chaos. School children were prevented from going to school. So a lot of people were living in fear. Looking at it, it was appropriate for police to intervene,” he said.
Liberian refugee Goblah Monloe speaking from Accra, Ghana told VOA the arrested women were beaten. But Ofori said the arrested refugees have been treated with dignity.
“Let me say that they are women and no one assaulted them. Today Ghana television journalists were allowed to have access to them. So they were not beaten. And let me also take this opportunity to say that close to 18 years that our brothers and sisters came to Ghana, they’ve been living peacefully and the bond of relationship between Ghana and Liberia is a very deepened one. And they’ve enjoyed their stay here until this unlawful demonstration took place that raised a lot of insecurity at the camp that the police intervened,” he said.
Ofori raised the possibility that non-law abiding refugees could be made to return to Liberia.
“Power remains with the authorities. The police, we acted to ensure law and other. This afternoon, the Honorable Minister for the Interior also issued a statement regarding the action that might be taken. Earlier on last week he also stated his position clearly that if they fail to abide by the laws of the land, they might take a decision because as far as they are concerned, Liberia is peaceful and there is a democratic process in place,” Ofori said.