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04.10.2002 General News

Reconciliation Commission is still receiving complaints

By gna
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The National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) has stated that it has not yet set any deadline for victims of human rights violations under unconstitutional regimes to file complaints to the Commission and asked victims to reject such rumours and come forward with their complaints. Briefing the media in Accra, Ms Annie Anipa Director of the Public Affairs Secretariat of the Commission said the NRC was still receiving complaints and a public announcement would be made when a deadline was set for the receipt of the complaints. She said in respect of the provisions of the NRC Act, which stipulated a one-year period for the work of the Commission and that it could be extended to one-and-a-half years if it became necessary. Ms Anipa said the Commission would still take complaints for record purposes even if a deadline was declared and could not deal with the complaints. She said the NRC Act enjoined the Commission to protect witnesses from harm and gave an assurance that the Commission had the capacity to protect petitioners who suspected harm from alleged offenders. She asked alleged victims not to entertain any fears and urged them to file their petitions, adding that they could do so in confidence if they so desired. Ms Anipa said as at Wednesday, October 2, the Commission had received 1440 complaints nationwide on killings, seizure of property, torture and ill treatment with Accra topping the list with 629 complaints. The figures for the Zonal Offices were Kumasi 387, Takoradi 230, Ho 90, Tamale 69 and Bolgatanga 35. She said the Zonal Offices were moving into the regions to take statements, and a skeletal staff of the Kumasi office, which was responsible for the Eastern Region, would soon set up an office at the Koforidua Catholic Secretariat to receive petitions. Similarly, skeletal staff from the Tamale office has moved to Sunyani to receive statements from Brong Ahafo Region, while the Takoradi office would do the same for Cape Coast for the Central Region. Ms Anipa said the teams would be stationed for the periods they would be in the regions in the offices of the Regional Co-ordinating Councils and would organise public education campaigns, including discussions on local radio stations to sensitise the people on the activities of the Commission. She said as part of the mandated education campaigns, the Commission would as from next Monday start seminars for the Police, the Prisons and the Military Services. She said currently, each investigator of the Commission was handling 16 cases and added that the Commission had plans to engage at least one investigator for each of the five zonal offices to investigate statements peculiar to the respective zones. The NRC Public Affairs Director said the Counselling Department of the Commission had counselled 142 alleged victims of human rights abuse. They were business people and traders who had emotional problems of grief, revengeful and suicidal thoughts flashbacks, sleeplessness and low self-esteem. Ms Anipa said funding had been a problem and it was affecting the supply of logistics for the Commission; and the Chairman of the Commission and Attorney General had held discussions with some bodies to source funds from outside. She said all the staff of the Commission, except the Commissioners had been paid the September salaries. She said the contractor working on the renovation of the Old Parliament House, the permanent national office of the Commission, had given the assurance that it would be completed by the end of October.

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