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14.06.2007 General News

Government doles out ¢8bn to human rights victims

By myjoyonline

A total of 1,268 victims of human rights abuses in Ghana have been paid close to ¢8 billion in reparation sums as recommended by the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC).

The list forms part of a total of 2,177 victims to be appeased after they had appeared before the NRC and narrated some harrowing tales of torture under various Political regimes.

Following the work and recommendations of the NRC, the government allocated ¢i3.5 billion in the 2006 budget towards the compensation of victims.

The NRC also recommended the de-confiscation of some assets to their owners but in an interview in Accra on Wednesday, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Joe Ghartey, said though the government agreed with the principle of de-confiscation, there were some practical difficulties involved.

He said the process was quite cumbersome because a team which was set up to deal with the issue had to handle each case on its own merit, adding that care must be taken in order not to create more problems.

Mr Ghartey explained that there were two forms of de-confiscated cases and that there were those whose assets were taken over by the government and later genuinely acquired by some others.

He said in such circumstances the government was faced with the difficulty of whether to offer new property to the people involved or to compensate them financially.

He pointed out that as of now the government had not budgeted for the payment of compensation or otherwise to those whose assets were confiscated.

He further pointed that the payment of compensation took place throughout the country and added that between November and December 2006, a total of ¢2,127,280,000 was paid to 458 people in the nine regions outside Accra.

Touching on the confiscated assets of the Ghana Co-operative Marketing Association (GCMA), Mr Ghartey said President Kufuor had given approval that they should be given back to the owners but cautioned that the case must be handled properly, since the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOB) was currently using most of the property involved.

The Attorney-General also cited the building being occupied by the National Insurance Commission (NIC) and said it was a confiscated property which was legally acquired from the Assets Disposal Committee by the NIC.

He explained that a case of that nature needed to be handled properly in order not to cause discomfort to either of the parties involved.

Mr. Ghartey expressed appreciation to the individuals and institutions whose assets had been confiscated for exercising patience and appealed to them to continue to be patient and allow the government to do the right thing.

The Attorney-General's Office began paying compensation to victims of past political brutalities, torture and injustice in August 2006.

That was one of the recommendations made by the NRC and accepted by the government through a White Paper which came out after the work of the NRC, which began hearing complaints from the victims in January 2003.

The commission spent about 18 months to complete the public hearing.

The White Paper, which was read on August 22, 2005 by the then Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Ayikoi Otoo, stated, among other things, that the range of reparation would be from ¢2 million to ¢30 million, depending on the nature of the abuse.

The NRC was set up by an Act of Parliament, Act 661, to investigate and document cases of aggrieved individuals and citizens of Ghana who suffered injustices, violations and human rights abuses in the country's socio-political periods since 1966 and a window of hope for those who suffered injustices between independence and 1966.

At the time of the commencement of payment in August last year, Mr Ghartey said the government did not consider the compensation as payment but a token to show that it identified itself with the sufferings the victims went through.

"No amount of money could pay for the suffering some of you went through," he had stressed.

Culled from Daily Graphic

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