Samson’s Take: Compensate 247 victims, punish the criminal wrong against Ashaiman

It has taken too long for such a major urgent matter to receive such attention. In any serious country, the official inquiry would have been completed in a matter of days or weeks, the errant soldiers sanctioned and the poor victims of the egregious human rights abuses adequately compensated.

I insist that what the military did on March 7, 2023 was state-sponsored terrorism against innocent members of the Tulaku and Taifa communities in Ashaiman.

The Report of Parliament’s Committee of Defence and Interior dated November 2023 and now intercepted by JoyNews is a good first official admission of wrong, not “excesses” but criminal wrong and unconstitutional harm to people and property by the military.

Hopefully, the perpetrators will face lawful action forthwith to send the right signals. The uniform ought to be a symbol of professionalism, and protection and not thuggery and impunity against those who pay for the uniform, the gun, and those who use them.

The Commander-In-Chief has an obligation to the people and the Constitution he swore to uphold, to make a statement not in mere words but action that accords with his oath and obligation by swiftly letting heads roll; I mean heads of supervisors of the dastardly act.

Hopefully, the victims have been properly accounted for and the compensation will be swift and adequate. In March, we were given 184 as the number of victims. This obviously was only the number detained or abducted and later released by the army. Oliver Barker-Vormawor who mobilised lawyers and paralegals to record what happened to victims found far more than Lawyer Emmanuel Kumadey’s list of 247 adopted by the committee.

Army leaders and those in charge of security of the State told the committee the army moved into Ashaiman “after all intelligence had been gathered” on the killing of the young trooper. Yes, an intelligence operation saw the soldiers, as captured in the report, jumping and scaling walls into homes, breaking doors and waking innocent people from sleep to beat, drag them out into the rain and mud, line them up and flog and inflict serious injuries on them?

The police eventually picked up six suspects who were not part of the hundreds subjected to torture, cruelty, inhuman treatment, and punishment or conditions that detract from their worth with impunity. This violated the clear provisions of Article 15 of the Constitution. How difficult is it for a state professional security body fully armed to comply with this provision to not violate the dignity of a suspect they arrest, restrict or detain?

Criminal suspects are to be presumed innocent until they plead guilty or are found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.

Shockingly, only a few organisations including Occupy Ghana and CDD Ghana issued statements condemning the wrong and demanding action.

I urge that many rise to defend the Constitution, human rights or even State security organisations will continue to violate fundamental rights and thereby threaten the democratic order. It is disturbing that that many young professionals and the middle class are quiet about the abuse and impunity that threatens democracy.

The CDD’s Emerita Professor Takyiwaa Manuh is not tired of defending human rights and freedoms, even minority rights including respect and equal treatment for LGBTQI+ persons in such a hostile environment. She has been at this since the 80s defending inalienable rights including gender and media freedoms. It was great to see her honoured with the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law 2023.

In observance of International Human Rights Day, 2023, which coincided with the 75th anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 11 individuals from around the globe were honored for their exemplary efforts in advancing human rights. The Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law recognizes the dedication of civil society to the preservation of inalienable human rights and the protection of human dignity for all.

On January 22, 2024, at the residence of the French ambassador to Ghana, she was presented with the award during a beautiful event that was held in her honour.

She is Emerita Professor of African Studies at the University of Ghana. She was Professor of African Studies at the University of Ghana where she also served as Director of the Institute of African Studies between 2002 and 2009. She has also been the Director of the Social Development Policy Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Ethiopia.

Professor Manuh received her PhD in Anthropology from Indiana University, Bloomington, and holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Law from the University of Ghana, Legon, and the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Her research interests are in African development; women’s rights and empowerment; contemporary African migrations, and African higher-education systems, and has several publications across these areas.

I give this outline to tell a story that if such an accomplished and illustrious global citizen is still committed to defending human rights and demanding good governance, you have no excuse but all the inspiration you need to do better. Speak up for democracy! And that’s My Take.

Samson Lardy ANYENINI

January 27, 2024

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.