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26.02.2007 General News

Use Golden Jubilee to facilitate reconciliation

By myjoyonline

Ghanaians have been urged to use the Golden Jubilee celebrations to facilitate national reconciliation.

They have also been asked to use the celebrations to reflect on their human rights record and pledge never again to condone such abuses of the rights of others in the country.

The government and institutions have also been asked to implement some of the symbolic recommendations made by the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) that would not cost the nation any resource.

In separate interviews, the interviewees were unanimous in their views that the Golden Jubilee year was an opportune time for reconciliatory gestures from the government and people.

Mr Justice Kweku Etrew Amua-Sekyi, who chaired the NRC, told the Daily Graphic that he was particularly passionate about the recommendation of a national honour for the Police Investigation Team that swiftly and thoroughly investigated the murder of the three high court judges and a retired army officer on June 30, 1982.

He said his ardent desire was for space to be created during the Golden Jubilee celebrations to honour those who worked to uphold justice and the rights of others.

Justice Amua-Sekyi said it was vital for the nation's progress for a day to be set aside this year to honour them.

He proposed that all celebrations had to be tied to gestures of reconciliation, some of which, he added, could be expressed by the implementation of some symbolic acts such as a Day of Remembrance and the unveiling of commemorative plaques in honour of victims of human rights abuses.

One of the nominated members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Prof Ken Attafuah, was of the view that the Jubilee year should not go by without the implementation of some of the symbolic reconciliatory gestures, which, according to him, would not cost much to implement.

“The significance of the Golden Jubilee celebrations must be seized to implement the recommendations that prescribe public apologies to various groups of victims and commemorative events to honour victims," he suggested.

Explaining the significance, he stressed that the celebrations were to celebrate Ghanaians as one people, one nation and with one destiny, requiring reconciliation to be at the centre of them all.

He mentioned the Namoo Market in the Upper West Region that was vibrant but abandoned during the military upheavals, and said it had to be restored somehow for the people.

Prof. Attafuah, who was the Executive Secretary of the NRC in 2002, also reiterated the view of Justice Amua-Sekyi on honouring the team of police personnel and added that it would not cost much for the government to do so.

He noted that the government had committed itself to the recommendations, by its endorsement of the report in its White Paper.

The Programmes Co-ordinator of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Mr Edmund Folley, for his part stressed the timeliness of the year to revisit the recommendations.

He conceded that the government had tackled some recommendations on reparations, by starting the payment of token amounts to victims.

He, however, stressed the need for the implementation of the other symbolic recommendations.

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Joe Ghartey has, meanwhile, said the government would use the country's 50th anniversary celebrations to quicken the implementation of some of the recommendations.

He hinted that the recommendation to honour the gallant team of police officers would be implemented this year, adding that some discussions had been done with interested parties to the issue.

Mr Ghartey said others, such as the building of plaques and commemorative landmarks in honour of some victims, were being considered, although he could not be definite on the timing of that because of the cost element.

He advised victims of human rights abuses, especially those who would benefit from deconfiscation of assets, to hold their fire as that involved money and compromises from others who in the process of time had acquired the assets.

"When it comes to reconciliation, we cannot be like the Merchant of Vernice," he said.

He announced a disbursement of ¢1 billion so far, to 1091 victims of human rights abuses and assured Ghanaians that the government would be on track with its pledge on reconciliation.