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General News of Thursday, 22 May 2003


Ghana Embassy In Germany Under Attack -Rejoinder

The attention of the Ghana Embassy in Berlin has been drawn to yet another report of lies attributed to Anthony Rau, a Ghanaian-born human rights activist in Germany.

2. The report, (READ) which appeared in the general news of the “ghanaweb” site of 16 May 2003 (source: Weekend Heritage) under the title “Ghana Embassy in Germany Under Attack”, alleges among others that the Mission has spent ?150,000 in the past 5 months on two 20-foot containers that cost only ?13,000” because the containers are being rented at a cost of ?1,000 per day.

3. The report has come to join the many articles of lies that Rau has been peddling in Ghana. Considering the facts of the Mission’s relocation from Bonn to Berlin, it is incomprehensible that anyone could have arrived at the contents and figures stated in the article, except for the simple reason of having the most evil of intentions.

4. Yes indeed, the Mission is currently working from a temporary container office not because it wishes to do so or to cause financial loss to the Government, but because of an unexpected delay, beyond its control, in the work schedule of the contractor resulting from legal complications in the renovations contract.

5. The renovations have not been abandoned as alleged by Rau. On the contrary, one of the two buildings, which will constitute the Mission’s new offices, has already been completed. However, the legal complications arising from the renovations contract have meant that money which should have been paid to the contractor to facilitate the release of the building is being withheld to ensure that the necessary mechanism required to protect Government’s interest in the event of unsatisfactory work is put in place. Even though these difficulties were not foreseen last year, the Mission, in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is working hard to resolve them.

6. Now concerning the rest of the report, the Mission wishes to state the following facts: Each of the two containers is being rented for €525 per month, making a total of €1050 monthly for the temporary office. So for the 5-month period between January and May 2003, the two containers cost €5,250 instead of Rau’s stated figure of ?150,000. Can anyone compare and understand how a figure of €5,250 could have been exaggerated to become ?150,000. And why is Rau now quoting in pounds sterling in a Euro Zone?

7. Secondly, the Mission’s Officers could have stayed in Bonn during the 5-month period (i.e. January to May 2003) but they would still have had to rent new or temporary offices even in Bonn. This is because in line with the relocation from Bonn to Berlin, the Mission was compelled, by reason of the relevant tenancy agreements, to give 6-month notices to all its landlords or forfeit its deposits for the various properties at considerable cost to Government.

8. Consequently, the 6-month quit notices were issued to the various landlords in June 2002, in anticipation of relocating to Berlin in December 2002. By December 2002, the landlords of the office buildings had already signed new tenancy agreements with the next tenants, and the Mission effectively had no office in Bonn by the end of the year. It is therefore false to say that the Mission could have stayed in the Bonn Office during this period. Moreover, had the Mission chosen to stay in Bonn as suggested by Rau, it would have had to pay rent for Officers’ accommodation in both Bonn and Berlin, since contracts for the Berlin residences for Officers also came into force on 15 December 2002 in anticipation of the move to Berlin.

9. The containers have no air conditioners, but air conditioners were not needed. The containers were fitted with heaters because up till the end of April, the weather was cold. Indeed, even this week, it has become necessary to put on the heaters because of cold weather.

10. However, whether in hot or cold weather, Officers have stayed in even after working hours to do their work. The Mission has continued to provide its usual services despite working in the containers.

11. It is obvious that Rau has been conducting a campaign of lies against the Mission because of the personal grudge he holds against the Mission. Each article he has had printed has been filled with lies designed intentionally to destroy the image and reputation of the Mission and its Officers. Sometimes, he has even mentioned Officers’ names and attributed to them schedules and actions that bear no semblance to their actual duties in the Office.

12. It is extremely unfortunate that such blatant lies easily get into print because of the freedom of expression and press freedom whose real aim is to enable people express and know the truth.

13. It will be recalled that the Mission in its letter No. BLN/SCR/14 of 10/3/03 conveyed its reaction to several newspaper articles published in Ghana after a News Conference during which Rau made various allegations of impropriety against the Embassy.