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12.12.2006 General News

Govt Silent on 44 Executed Ghanaians

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Govt Silent on 44 Executed Ghanaians
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The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has revealed that 44 Ghanaians were killed via extra-judicial means in The Gambia last year.

It has, accordingly, called on the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nana Akufo-Addo, to make public the action the ministry intends to take to deal with the matter.

It also charged the government to take diplomatic note of the Gambian government's failure to prosecute the perpetrators of the crime and noted that it should report such acts of violence to regional and international bodies to ensure that the perpetrators of that horrific act were brought to book.

This was disclosed by the Africa Office Co-ordinator of CHRI, Nana Oye Lithur, at the celebration of International Human Rights Day on the theme, “Fighting Poverty, a matter of obligation, not charity”, in Accra yesterday.

CHRI, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), is mandated to ensure the practical realisation of human rights in Commonwealth countries by advocating approaches and measures in the prevention of human rights abuses.

According to a report on the Gambian killings issued by CHRI, a top Gambian official who spoke out against his government's actions said the Ghanaians, who were on their way to Europe, were intercepted in the waters off The Gambia and taken to a killing site in the farms of Siffoe in Gambia's western division by government officials.

The report stated that the men were brutally murdered with machetes, axes and knives and noted that their bodies were indiscriminately dumped at various locations, among them the village of Brufut, near Siffoe.

Nana Lithur indicated that although an investigation into the incident was launched in March this year by the Ghanaian and the Gambian governments, led by Nana Akufo-Addo, nothing had since been heard from the Ghanaian government on the matter and the public had subsequently been left in the dark.

She said the Director of the Legal and Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the story but added that until all the evidence had been gathered, it would not be prudent for the ministry to level accusations at any person or organisation and expressed the hope that a full report on the ministry's investigations would be presented to the government soon.

The report also touched on human rights abuses by Ghanaian state security agents, the security agents of mining companies and the systematic illegal but unpunished use of force against various rural people by the Ghana Police Service and personnel of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF)

“The human rights violations occurring within the mining communities are systematic and there is an urgent need for the government to address these violations.

The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana guarantees fundamental human rights to Ghanaians,” the report stated.

The brutality of state security forces and that of the mining companies had led to the death of some residents of mining communities and CHRI called for an investigation into the operations of the GAF, the Police Service and the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), since their operations resulted in gross violations of human rights.

According to Nana Lithur, CHRI researched into allegations of human rights abuses suffered at the hands of the Wildlife Department by residents of Shiare, a community in the Nkwanta District of the Volta Region.

Shiare is one of the nine small farming villages which border the Kyabobo National Park which, on September 16, 2006, was declared to be land acquired in the public interest by an executive instrument, a declaration which ignited tension between the community and the Wildlife Department, leading to assault, attempted rape, unlawful arrests and destruction of property of the local people.

Nana Lithur further said the villagers supported the project but felt the Wildlife Department's proposed boundary took away too much of their arable land.

Meanwhile, the Wildlife Department has denied committing any human rights abuses, even though testimonies from the communities suggested otherwise.

CHRI, therefore, called on the government to set up a committee to resolve the boundary dispute and take note of Article 20 of the Constitution, which states that the compulsory acquisition of property by the government shall only be made under a law which makes provision for the prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation.

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