You are here: HomeNews2002 05 06Article 23826

General News of Monday, 6 May 2002

Source: gna

Reconciliation Commission Inaugurated

President John Agyekum Kufuor on Monday said the government was determined to have a new Ghana committed to the rule of law and order. The government was also committed to national unity as an essential requirement to move the country forward, he said, adding that the establishment of the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) had a vital role to ensure that the government's objective was realised.

Administering the official oath and oath of secrecy at the inauguration of the nine-member NRC at the Castle, Osu, President Kufuor said the Commission was not a vengeance against any individual or group of people, saying the national unity and interest demanded it. The Commission established by Act 611 of Parliament, has the mandate to operate for a year from the first day of its sitting with a provision for further six months.

It sought to promote national reconciliation among Ghanaians by establishing accurate, complete and historical record of violations and abuses of human rights inflicted on persons by public institutions and holders of public office or persons purporting to have acted on behalf of the State during periods of unconstitutional governments.

The periods were from 24 February 1966 to 21 August 1969, 13 January 1972 to 23 September 1979, 31 December 1981 to 6 January 1993 and by making recommendations to the President for redress of wrongs committed within the specific periods.

Notwithstanding the periods specified, the Commission may on an application by any person, pursue the object set out in respect of any other period between 6 March, 1957 and 6 January, 1993. President Kufuor said in pursuit of national unity, Ghanaians should not forget about what had happened in the past, although there had been public apology to what happened.

He said the inauguration of the Commission was the logical result of the NRC Act and the fulfilment of the promise made by the government to Parliament and the country. To the Commission, President Kufuor said an enormous responsibility had been placed on their shoulders because the abuses had led to bitterness and rancour among all Ghanaians and the Commission had to sway away this bitterness.

President Kufuor appealed to the mass media to exercise restraint on sensitising the public on the procedure adopted by the Commission to perform its work. He said the media should not do anything that would fragment the society and divide it and appealed to the citizenry, groups and opinion leaders to co-operate with the Commission in the discharge of its duties.

He said the Commission was an independent body and urged the members to work according to their conscience, adding assuring them that the government would provide all the necessary logistic support to them to perform creditably. "Your report would be treated with all seriousness and recommendations would be implemented".

Mr Justice Kweku Etrew Amua-Sekyi, retired Supreme Court Judge and Chairman of the Commission, said no one could deny that for the past 40 years as a nation, there had been some mistakes made.

Courage was needed to admit them and make amends to move the nation forward, he said and gave the assurance that the Commission would work tirelessly to heal the wounds of the past and chart a new path of a better tomorrow. "We would discharge our duties to the best of our capabilities, " he added.

Other members of the Commission were, Bishop Charles Palmer-Buckle, Catholic Bishop of Koforidua, Maulvi Wahab Ibn Adam, Ameer and Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Professor Florence Abena Dolphyne, former Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Legon, and Dr (Mrs) Sylvia Boye, formerly of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC).

The rest were Mr Christian Appiah-Agyei, former General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Professor (Mrs) Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, Lecturer of the Faculty of Law University of Ghana, Legon, Lieutenant-General Emmanuel Erskine, former Commander of UNIFIL and Uborr Dalafu Labal II, Paramount Chief of Sangul in the Northern Region.

Dr Ken Agyemang Attafuah, Director of Promotion and Anti-Corruption at CHRAJ is the Executive Secretary to the Commission. The Commission would also investigate violations and abuses of human rights relating to killings, abductions, disappearances, detentions, torture, ill-treatment and seizure of properties suffered by any person within the specified periods.

It would investigate the context in which and the causes and circumstances under which the violations and abuses occurred and identify the individuals, public institutions, bodies, organisations, public office holders or persons purporting to have acted on behalf of any public body responsible for or involved in the violations and abuses.

The Commission would identify and specify the victims of the violations and abuses and make appropriate recommendations for redress. Investigate and determine whether or not the violations and abuses were deliberately planned and executed by the state or any person.

Conduct investigations relevant to its work and seek the assistance of the police and any public or private institution, body or person for the purposes of an investigation. Educate the public and give sufficient publicity to its work so as to encourage the public to contribute positively to the achievement of the object of the Commission. The proceedings of the Commission shall be held in public except that the Commission may for good cause have private hearings.