13.03.2008 Gambia

Government Is Still Seeking Justice For Gambian Killings - Ministry

13.03.2008 LISTEN

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and NEPAD yesterday assured relatives of those killed in the Gambian in July 2005 that
all efforts are being made to seek justice for the victims.

Mr Yaw Adjei, Supervising Director in-charge of Finance and Administration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the relatives that aside the many local and international efforts made by the government, an investigative Committee comprising the United Nations, African Union, Economic Community of West African States and International Red Cross, has been established to investigate the incident to bring the perpetrators to book.

He was addressing relatives and members of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Media Foundation for West Africa, Amnesty International and sympathizers of civil society who went on a demonstration to the premises of the Ministry in Accra yesterday.

Mr Adjei, together with Mr Zed K Grant-Essilfie, Supervising Director, Legal Multilateral Organisations, Consular, Immigration and Passports, received the demonstrators and their petition on behalf of the sector Minister who is out of the country on national assignment.

The demonstrators, wearing mourning clothes and T-shirts with inscription; 'Seeking Justice' started their demonstration from Asylum Down through the Trades Union Congress to the Ministry holding placards some of which read: 'Justice Delayed is Justice Denied,' 'Killers must be brought to Justice,' 'We Need Justice for 50 Africans' and 'What happened to our citizens.'

Mr Adjei expressed the sadness of government and the Ministry about the incident and the length of time in seeking justice but pleaded with the relatives and Ghanaians in general to be patient with government as it resorts to international mediation on the issue.

'It is true that justice delayed is justice denied but it is also true that the wheel of justice grinds slowly, so we must allow the process of law and diplomacy to take its course,' Mr Adjei said.

He explained further that with the investigative committee now in place, the Gambian government has been pinned down to sit and talk about the issue unlike its refusal initially to sit with Ghanaian officials.

A representative of the relatives of the victims, Mr Samuel Nkatiah, read a petition and commended government on efforts being made to investigate the case but expressed regret at the lack of personal communication between the state and the relatives of the deceased and missing.

Mr Nkatiah said development on the investigations had not been reported to them while their request for information had fallen on deaf ears, leaving them in a state of limbo.

He said they only relied on media reports and did not know the whereabouts of the remains of the victims or the fate of those who were missing.

'We have lost fathers, sons, brothers and providers for the family. Their deaths and disappearances have brought, not only emotional and physical loss but also the loss of livelihood and financial stability. As a result, some of our children can no longer go to school and we find ourselves in a daily struggle to survive.'

He therefore called for recognition, assistance and information as to the whereabouts of their loved ones and if possible their remains as well as an open dialogue between them and the investigating bodies.

The relatives are also seeking government's assistance to help them to meet their needs as they said they had been deprived of proper livelihood due to the loss of their loved ones who were breadwinners.

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