BNI asked to inform suspects of reason behind any arrest
Mr Martin Amidu, Minister of the Interior, on Friday explained that an officer of the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) when he exercises his police powers of arrest, restriction or detention of a person suspected of crime, is legally obliged to inform the person the reason for his or her arrest.
Arrested suspects must also be notified of their right to a lawyer of their choice.
Mr Amidu said consequently where the person invited for interrogation was arrested, restricted or detained during the period of invitation, he has a right to the presence of a lawyer of his choice throughout any interrogation, then or thereafter.
Mr Amidu who made this known when he appeared before Parliament to answer a question tabled by Mr Ben Abdallah Banda, Member for Offinso South, noted however that the BNI or any of its officers had no legal obligation to permit the lawyer of a person it invites for investigations to sit through any interrogation when the invitee had not been arrested, restricted or detained by the BNI.
Consequently, the BNI may interrogate a person whether as a witness or a suspected perpetrator of crime as part of a pre-arrest investigation process either at the scene of crime or some other place without the presence of his lawyer, if at that stage of the pre-arrest investigation the BNI was only gathering evidence of crime to enable it make up its mind whether or not to arrest, restrict, or detain a suspect(s) for crime.
He further explained that when the BNI invites a person for interrogation in the performance of its statutory function of collating, collecting and evaluating intelligence relating to national security for dissemination within the government, it was not obliged to permit the presence of the person’s lawyer during the interrogation.