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03.04.2008 Social News

Rights groups discontinue with refugees case

By Accra Mail
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An Accra Fast Track High Court on yesterday struck out a motion on notice for writ of habeas corpus filed by a Liberian refugee at the Gomoa Buduburam camp against her arrest and detention together with more than 630 others at the Kordiabe Training Centre.

This was after Nana Oye Lithur, defence counsel, prayed the court to discontinue with the case because the applicants in the case have been released.

"Applicants in the matter have since been released. We therefore wish to discontinue with the case and we ask for damages since we have incurred cost," she told the court.

The court, presided over by Mr. Justice K.A. Ofori Atta said: "On hearing the prayer of the applicants, application is hereby struck out and discontinued."

The court also declined to award cost to the applicants.

Nana Obiri Boahene, Minister of State at the Ministry of Interior, represented the Ministry. The Minister of Justice and the Attorney General, who represented the state, was, however, not in court.

Nana Oye explained that, because they had indicated to the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General to discontinue with the case, the Minister stated that he would not be able to appear in court.

On March 20, Ms. Chucider Lawrence, filed a motion seeking an order for a writ of habeas corpus against the Minister of the Interior and Inspector General of Police (IGP) to produce her body.

Mr. Tuinese Edward Amuzu of Legal Resources Centre and Nana Oye Lithur Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative filed the writ on her behalf.

The writ also asked the Minister and the IGP to justify the arrest and continued detention of Ms Lawrence and the reasons why the court should not order her release.

It is also asking the two officials to be restrained, from taking "any further action inconsistent with her refugee status".

In his application in support of the motion, Mr. Patrick Ahossouhe, husband of Ms. Chucider, said her arrest and subsequent detention and the 630 others beyond 48 hours without recourse to the courts was unlawful.

It said on March 22, some men from the Buduburam camp were also arrested, detained and subsequently deported on the same day.

He said he believed that there were preparations to deport Ms Lawrence and others at Kordiabe and asked the court to order the Minister and IGP to produce the bodies of the persons in detention and justify their continued detention.

The government removed the refugees from Buduburam after they defied government orders to end their unlawful demonstrations that, it said, had caused disruption in life at the camp. Government has also said Kordiabe would be a new refugee camp.

The UNHCR has asked government to end the deportations of the refugees while warning the Liberians to be of good behaviour.

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