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03.04.2005 General News

NRC Fingers Rawlings’ Regimes

By ALFRED OGBAMEY (GYE NYAME CONCORD)
NRC Fingers Rawlings’ Regimes

…for 84% of all human rights violations in nation's history

THE MILITARY, POLICE Service and the Prisons Service have been identified as the main perpetrators of violations of human rights abuses in the erstwhile AFRC and PNDC regimes, according to the Executive Summary report of the National Reconciliation Commission.

In the statements considered by the Commission, the military scored high marks in the abductions and detentions which took place mainly in the military juntas of the Rawlings-led Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) 31 December Revolution.

The two regimes, according to the NRC, recorded the highest number of abuses (see full details of report on pages 2 & 7).

The report said even though the violations were not confined to unconstitutional governments, about 84 percent of all the violations occurred in the AFRC and PNDC eras.

According to the NRC, “abductions and detentions remained remarkably high in the AFRC and PNDC regimes compared to other regimes”.

“Wealthy and influential people in society”, the NRC said, suffered the larger proportion of the violations during the AFRC and the PNDC periods.

It also noted that “the Preventive Detention Act and Protective Custody Law impacted greatly on detention violations as it was found out that the passage of the laws corresponded to peaks in detention violations.”

The NRC was, however, quick to rebuff that the overall trend of abductions, including, violations and abuses of people's rights revealed during their proceedings, showed that they were not confined to unconstitutional governments alone.

“Significantly higher violations and abuses were registered during periods of unconstitutional governments than during constitutional ones”, the report pointed out.

The NRC stressed that the entrance of unconstitutional governments always led to sharp rises in violations with peaks at the beginning of the rule of these governments.

The body also identified that guns, boots, sticks, canes and the hand were the main weapons or means used in the violations, with guns topping the pact.

Highlighting on the main reasons why people petitioned the Commission, the report mentioned monetary compensation, material compensation and noted that a significant number of people also wanted to set the records straight.

“Getting monetary compensation was indicated by most of the statement makers as their primary reason for petitioning. Only a small proportion of victims petitioned the Commission to demand justice against perpetrators”, noted the NRC in its report.

The report said “Overall, there was a greater concentration of violations and abuses in the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions. Executions happened mainly in the Greater Accra, Ashanti and Western Regions. Significant proportions of all the violations happened in and around Military facilities (Table 10)”.

The report said: “Economic hardship, bankruptcy, family disintegration, lack of education for children and health problems were the main long-term effects of the violations on the victims as indicated in their statements.”

Read the full report and details of the data on pages 2 & 7 of this edition.

6.0 INTRODUCTION

The Commission collected 4,240 statements from Ghanaians between 3rd September, 2002 and 13th January, 2004. By the end of 30th September, 2004, a total number of 3,114 statements had been coded and captured in the Commission's database for statistical analysis. This represents over 70 percent of the total number of 4,240 statements taken. Out of the number of statements entered into the database, 2,457 (79%) contained violations perpetrated within the Commission's mandate period. The patterns and figures discussed in the Commission's Report cover the mandate period and are representative of the 3,114 statements studied.

6.1 SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

6.1.1 The summary of findings were the following:

1. The overall trend of violations and abuses revealed that they were not confined to unconstitutional governments. However, significantly higher violations and abuses were registered during periods of unconstitutional governments than during constitutional ones. The entrance of unconstitutional governments always led to sharp rises in violations with peaks at the beginning of the rule of these governments. Similarly, abductions were not confined to unconstitutional governments but were higher under these governments than under the elected governments.

2. Abductions and detentions remained remarkably high in the AFRC and PNDC regimes compared to other regimes. The Preventive Detention Act and Protective Custody Law impacted greatly on detention violations as it was found out that the passage of the laws corresponded to peaks in detention violations.

3. The Military, the Police Service and the Prisons Service were found to be the main perpetrators of the violations over the period. In the statements considered by the Commission, 66.3 percent of the violations were attributed to the Military.

4. Overall, there was a greater concentration of violations and abuses in the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions. Executions happened mainly in the Greater Accra, Ashanti and Western Regions. Significant proportions of all the violations happened in and around Military facilities (Table 10).

5. The victims of the violations were mainly males. In all the statements containing violations, about 81 percent were male victims. In the case of forced sales and sexual abuse, the proportions of the abuses were about the same for both sexes (Table 5). Also, the violations were perpetrated mainly against adults but in the cases involving “other killings” and sexual abuse, significant proportions of the victims were children.

6. Even though the violations were not confined to unconstitutional governments, about 84 percent of all the violations occurred in the AFRC and PNDC eras. Wealthy and influential people in society suffered a larger proportion of the violations during these two periods.

7. Guns, boots, sticks and canes and the hand were the main weapons or means used in the violations. Guns were mostly used, compared to the others.

8. There were three main reasons why people petitioned the Commission. These were: (1) to get monetary compensation, (2) to obtain material compensation and (3) to set records straight. Getting monetary compensation was indicated by most of the statement makers as their primary reason for petitioning. Only a small proportion of victims petitioned the Commission to demand justice against perpetrators.

9. Economic hardship, bankruptcy, family disintegration, lack of education for children and health problems were the main long-term effects of the violations on the victims as indicated in their statements.6.1.2 Statistical Highlights

Below are selected highlights of the statistics. The full Statistical Report appears in Volume 3, Chapter Three of this Report.

6.2 OVERALL PATTERN OF VIOLATIONS

6.1.2.1 Figure 1 shows that violations were not confined to periods of unconstitutional governments. Counts of violations peaked in the Convention People's Party (CPP) era (1957 – 1966) in 1960 and, thereafter, were on a downward trend until the National Liberation Council (NLC) era (1966 – 1969) when violations peaked again in 1966. The period 1968 – 1971, covering part of the NLC and Progress Party (PP) eras, recorded relatively very few violations. Another peak in violations was recorded in 1972, and that was in the National Redemption Council (NRC) era of 1972 – 1975. The period of the Supreme Military Council (SMC) I &II (1975 – 1979) recorded a relatively very low number of violations.

6.2.0.2 The count of violations from 1979 to the beginning of 1993 remained high with very high peaks in 1979 (the entry of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and 1982 (the entry of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC). An exception over this period is the period t hat spanned the rule of the People National Party (PNP), where abuses were relatively low. Violations seemed to have reduced from 1984 with the exception of 1988 when they increased again. Thereafter, violations decreased.

6.2.1 Detentions

Detentions were not confined to unconstitutional governments although the numbers were significantly higher under these governments. The first peak in detentions occurred in the CPP era in 1958 followed by another peak in 1960 and thereafter decreased until the 1966 coup when the number of detentions rose sharply again to about 150 counts. The AFRC/PNDC eras recorded very high counts of detention until 1989 when the number began to reduce. It is interesting to note that even on the eve of democratic governance, there were still detention violations.

6.2.1.2 The first peak in detentions occurred in 1958, a year in which the Preventive Detention Act (Act 17) was passed. The 1960 peak could be explained by other factors which were not related to any Act. The 1966 peak corresponded to the Preventive Custody Decree (NRCD 2). The Preventive Custody Law (PNDCL 4) also explained the peak of detentions in 1982. All the other peaks, except that of the 1960, mark the years where there were coups or attempted coups but not any detention Act. Aside the Detention Acts, 1966 marked the entry of the NLC government, 1972 the NRC and 1975 the palace coup that brought the SMC II into being. The 1979 and 1982 peaks marked the entry of AFRC and PNDC respectively. The other peaks after 1982 may be attributed to suppression of perceived opponents and attempted coups.

6.2.2 Perpetrator responsibility

6.2.2.1 Considering all the violations recorded in the statements under review, Figure 4 shows that the Military Forces, the Police Service and the Prison Service stood out as the main perpetrators. The Military, according to the institutional aggregation, used for this database, was made up of Army, Navy, Air Force, Military Intelligence, Special Forces – the Search and Destroy Team and 64 Bn (Commando). The Military had about 53 percent responsibility, the Police Service and the Prisons Service had about 17 percent and 9 percent perpetrator responsibility respectively. There was a significant proportion (12%) of violations perpetrated by institutions that were not known to the statement makers or the victims. The percentage of perpetrator responsibility, according Figure 4, sums up to more than 100 percent. This could be explained by the fact that responsibility for some violations was attributed to more than one institution, since some of these institutions collaborated in perpetrating some of the violations.

6.2.2.2 Government agents which were made up of Borders Guards/Customs and Excise, Immigration Service, National and Local Government also perpetrated some significant proportion of the violations. Similarly the BNI, civilians and revolutionary organs (Peoples Defence Committee (PDC), Committee for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR), Workers Defence Committee (WDC) and, Citizens Vetting Committee (CVC) perpetrated some significant proportion of the violations.

6.2.2.3 From Table 2, on average, 48.2 percent of the violations were done by the Military and 15.8 percent by the Police. Throughout all the regimes, the Military forces were mostly used to perpetrate the violations except in the CPP regime where the Police Forces and the Prison Service were mostly used.

6.2.2.4 As high as 79.3 percent of the violations perpetrated in the AFRC era were by the military, and 54.9 percent and 53.2 percent in the NRC and SMC regimes respectively.

Figure 5 shows the perpetrator responsibility of the three institutions for abductions, while Figure 6 shows the same for detentions. The Military have a very high responsibility of 43.6 percent for abductions; the Police Forces have 23.2 percent while the Prison Service has virtually no perpetrator responsibility (0.1%) for the abductions.

6.2.3 Beating violation

6.2.3.1 Beating violations during the mandate period occurred almost entirely under unconstitutional governments. Remarkably very high number of beating violations happened in 1979 the beginning of AFRC rule, 1982 the beginning of PNDC rule and 1988 which may be due to some other disturbances of the military government at the time.

6.2.4 Seizure violations

6.2.4.1 Just like the beatings, seizure of properties happened almost entirely in the military governments where the peaks marked the beginning of new unconstitutional governments.

6.2.5 Violations in the Regions

6.2.5.1 There were a significant number of violations for which their regions of occurrence were not known. The presentation in Figure 5 represents the violations for which their regions of occurrence were known. Greater Accra recorded the greatest number (39.6%) of violations followed by Ashanti (13.7%). Upper West was the region where the least number (0.4%) of violations were reported to have occurred. This is to be expected, among other reasons, because Greater Accra is the seat of government and tends to experience the greatest impact of major national political disturbances.

6.2.5.2 Almost all the execution-style killings (81.8%) and media dismissals (93.8%) were recorded in Greater Accra. Most of the destructions (53.5%), price control (34.5&) and forced sales (20.2%) happened in the North'. These are shown in table 8.

6.2.6 Gender of victims

6.2.6.1 Table 4 shows that 8,686 victims suffered 12,517 violations. This indicates that some victims suffered more than one violation. On the average, a victim suffered about 2 violations. The minimum number of violations a victim suffered was 1 and the maximum was 55.

6.2.6.2 About 79 percent of the victims were males, 19 percent females and the rest were victims whose gender was not specified by the statement makers. The victims of executions in particular were all males. The type of violations in which the female victims were about the same as their male counterparts were forced sale (43.9%), sexual abuse (42.9%), head shavings (33.7%) and psychological torture (30.4%).

Table 3 Victims by gender

6.2.6.3 In the violations and abuses described in the statements filed with the Commission, over 80% were suffered by male victims. The killing of victims by military-style execution was entirely perpetrated against males. This is consistent with the view that abuse in Ghana was targeted against males.

6.2.6.4 T able 4 shows the percentages of male and female victims of each type of violation. In all instances, the percentage of male victims is significantly higher than that of the female victims. Looking at the abduction violations, about 83 percent were male victims. There were four of the violations where the percentage of the female victims was significantly comparable to their male counterparts. These are sexual abuse (43.1%), forced sale (41.7%), destruction (36.6%) and head shaving (34.0%). These are shown in Table 4. This supports the view that many women suffered sexual abuse, forced sale of wares at controlled price, destruction of private property and shaving of heads, especially during periods of unconsttutional government where these violations mainly occurred.

6.2.6.5 Looking at violations by age group, it is clear that the violations were mainly perpetrated against adults. However, 4% “other killings” were children and 4% of the sexual abuses were children (Table 6). We can therefore say, generally, that the violations were not targeted against children.

Table 5 Violations by age group

6.2.6.6 In total, 67.6% of the violations recorded in the statements received by the Commission for the mandate period were perpetrated during the PNDC era and 16.9% in the AFRC era. Even though the CPP era was far back into the past, it recorded a significant percentage (5.7%) of the violations. With the exception of controlled prices, where the highest percentage (45.8%) was recorded in the AFRC era, the highest percentage of all violations and abuses was recorded in the PNDC era.

Table 6 Violations in different regimes

6.2.7 Reasons For Petitioning The Commission

6.2.7.1 The main reasons why people petitioned the commission were (1) to receive compensation and (2) to set records straight. In all, about 89 percent of the statement makers indicated compensation as one of their reasons for petitioning the Commission. Setting the record straight was one of the reasons for 29.2 percent of the statement makers. A significant proportion (6.4%) also came to demand justice against perpetrators and others. The figures describing the proportion here total more than 100 percent because statement makers typically gave more than one reason for petitioning the Commission.

Figure 6 Reasons for making statements at the Commission

6.2.8 Long-term Effects Of the Abuses

6.2.8.1 In about half of the violations, statement makers or the victims did not indicate any long term effects. Economic hardship and bankruptcy accounted for 26 percent of the long term effects of the violations while family disintegration and lack of education for children accounted for about 21 percent of them. A significant percentage (16%) of the long term-effect was also health-related.

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