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General News of Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Source: GNA

IPR to honour 10, including Aliu

Accra, Aug. 15, GNA - Ten personalities, including Vice President Aliu Mahama, would be given honorary membership of the Institute of Public Relations, Ghana, at the annual awards dinner-dance to be held in Accra on Friday.

A statement signed by Mr Benjamin Adu-Kumi, Acting Executive Secretary, said the honour was being conferred on the Vice President "for the immense contribution he has made towards the Institute and the public relations profession in Ghana over the past years". CHRI demands action on 44 Ghanaians killed in the Gambia

Accra, Aug. 15, GNA - The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) on Wednesday called on the government to publish the report on the killings of 44 Ghanaians in the Gambia over two years now. The Ghanaians were said to be on their way to Europe on July 23, 2005.

A statement CHRI issued in Accra said, "From the magnitude of the incident, it was evident it portrayed an eminent human rights scandal that necessitated immediate action from the authorities of the states concerned."

It said under the 1992 Constitution the Ghana Government was obliged publish the Report so that the public could understand the full facts of what happened.

"This will also serve to show the level of commitment the Government has towards achieving justice for the 44 murdered Ghanaians in a transparent manner that will also allow public participation."

It asked that the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) should be part of the Investigative Team to ensure that the investigations were not only conducted expeditiously but also promote compliance with human rights standards during the process.

The statement said it was incumbent upon the Ghana and The Gambia Governments to expediently conduct further investigations into the matter and render justice for the deceased victims.

"Unfortunately this has not been the case as demands for a detailed account from the Government have not been promptly addressed." The statement said, CHRI as human rights defenders "have relentlessly called upon the Ghanaian Government to take action.

"We were informed that in 2006, the Government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, attempted to form a Joint Investigative Team with the Gambian authorities to unravel the facts surrounding the incident and take appropriate action."

It said, "on 21st November, 2006, we made an inquiry on the status of the investigations with the Ghanaian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Nana Akufo-Addo.

"In his response letter dated 15th January, 2007, he informed us that the Ministry's attempts to unearth the facts on the incident were being frustrated by the uncooperative attitude of their counterparts in The Gambia.

The said in CHR's pursuit to advocate for justice for the victims, it "made a formal statement to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights during the 41st Ordinary Session. More recently, we held a ceremonial Vigil on the 3rd June, 2007 to commemorate those who died."

It said, that "was also a measure to attract the attention of African leaders, who were in Accra at the time during the 9th African Union Summit, to inform them about this unfortunate situation". The statement said despite "our best efforts, we failed to gain a positive response from the Governments concerned."

Recent media news in the Ghanaian Times of 9th August, 2007, that a Report on the incident has been submitted by the Criminal Investigative Department to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has provided us with a ray of hope.

CHRI said; "The Report has revealed not only Yahya Jammeh's involvement but also his role as the main perpetrator of the extra-judicial killings.

"His implication and several others indicate a major step towards the call for justice against the perpetrators. We therefore believe the Government needs to take further action against the Gambian Government.

"The Criminal Investigation Department's positive actions in submitting a Report will only lead to positive results if the Government concludes its investigations timely and brings those responsible to justice," the statement added.