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13.07.2004 General News

NRC ends public and in-camera hearings

NRC ends public and in-camera hearings
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Accra, July 13, GNA - The National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), on Tuesday ended its 18-month public and in-camera hearings in Accra, with an apology to victims of human rights abuses in unconstitutional regimes in the history of the country.

The Chairman of the Commission, Mr Justice Kweku Etru Amua-Sekyi, in a statement at the end of the hearings said individuals, families, communities and a lot of people had suffered abuses and added that the Commission was hopeful that with time those wounds would heal.

He said: "We are all hoping we will come out with recommendations, which will help to heal the nation's wounds. We must all recognise that there are wounds to be healed: Wounds suffered by individuals, wounds suffered by families, wounds suffered by communities, wounds suffered by a whole lot of people in this country."

"To each and everyone of them, we say we are sorry. We share your pains. We hope that with time your wounds would heal."

The audience responded with an applause, when the Chairman stated: " So let us all pray that at the end of the day we will have a country, in which we can all say each is his brother or sister's keeper."

The Chairman appealed for the prayers of the public for the Commission as it considered the evidences it had heard and in writing its reports, and making recommendations, which were expected within the next three months.

"We hope and pray that these recommendations will help this nation to see itself that it really needs to find out where we went wrong so that we can correct these mistakes."

The Chairman said the Commission had heard witnesses from all walks of life, from all parts of the country, adding that, though the Commission was not able to visit all the 115 districts as suggested, it visited all the regions to hear evidence of human rights violations.

He said wherever the Commission went, it found out that people who were willing to come forward to tell the Commission what happened to them. The Commission, which started hearings on Tuesday, January 14, 2003, received a total of 4,311 petitions, and listed 2129 for hearing. It also heard 79 respondents, who testified in respect of human rights violations made against them. Some admitted their allegations made against them, and apologised and asked for forgiveness.

The Chairman said witnesses' stories showed real experiences of human rights abuses.

Mr Amua-Sekyi thanked Ghanaians for their support and goodwill and interest in the work of the Commission, and mentioned particularly Regional Ministers, Regional Police Commanders and the Military, and the Inspector General of Police in providing security for the Commission and the Regional Hospitals in the provision of medical services in the regions.

He also commended the Press Corps, and their media houses, which informed the public on the proceedings of the Commission both in Accra and the regional capitals, and also expressed appreciation to radio stations, which provided free airtime for the Commission's public education programmes.

Mr Justice Amua-Sekyi paid tribute to the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, United States Agency for International Development, the International Centre for Transitional Justice, the South African High Commission and the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development, and the Civil Society Coalition for the provision of logistics support for the work of the Commission.

The Chairman ended his remark at exactly 1743 hours.

The last evidence heard by the Commission was given by Mr Obeng Gyan Busia, Special Assistant to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, he gave the last evidence on behalf Nana Kusi Appiah, known in private life as Mr Kwame Bamey Busia.

The evidence was against the atrocities suffered by the family of the late Professor Kofi Abrefa Busia, former Prime Minister of Ghana, under the government of the Convention People's Party (CPP) and subsequent governments.

Accompanied by Nana Frema, alias Afia Busia, sister to Professor Busia, Mr Busia complained that the CPP passed legal instruments to destool Nana Kusi Appiah, as the Wenchihene, and said Nana Frema had to leave Wenchi to Ejisu and was later exiled to Togo, where she put up a building, but later lost it after the assassination of Mr Silvanus Olympio of Togo.

Mr Busia said the de-confiscated houses, which were released to the family were in very bad shape and appealed for the release of four confiscated cars of the late Professor Busia as well as his benefits. Former boss of the Accra Metropolitan Authority Mr Enoch Teye Mensah, who was also at the Commission, to cross-examine Madam Susanna Lartey denied through his counsel, Mr Bram Labi that he confiscated a parcel of land belonging Madam Lartey.

Dr Niyi Alabi, a broadcaster, who was also at the Commission to cross examine Mr Alex Okunnor, said he never told Mr Okunnor in 1985 that he was a spy to the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), which led to his (Okunnor) arrest.

Dr Alabi also stated that he earned his doctorate degree in International Relations from the Sorbonne University in France. Mr Okunnor had contested the doctorate of Dr Alabi as fake.

Nana Ato Dadzie, former Chief of Staff of the erstwhile PNDC denied seizing the land documents and stealing the property of Madam Georgina Appiah, a Witness.

He said he rather helped the witness, on the orders of the former President Jerry Rawlings to properly resettle her. Madam Appiah had told the Commission that after the June 4, 1979 coup, soldiers ransacked her building materials shop at Atico Junction in Accra.

Mr Adam Banobi the first witness of the day, told the Commission that Lance Cpl. Peter Tasiri Adongo, then member of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council arrested him, beat him and seized his brand new motor bike on allegation of smuggling.

He alleged that, the Lance Corporal also seized his two million CFA francs and had him detained at the Pusiga and Bawku police stations for a total of seven days.

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