Ghana: No Hiding Place for Former Oppressors; the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), Modelled on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Is Now in Full Flight. and What Harrowing Tales Are Coming out! (around Africa)

Article excerpt

Since the NRC began its public hearings at the Old Parliament House in Accra on 14 January this year, many tears have been shed by victims, witnesses and some members of the public as gory stories of abductions, killings, tortures and seizure of property under former governments, particularly Jerry Rawlings', have been told.

The NRC was set up by President John Kufuor's government to promote national reconciliation a la South Africa. It is now hearing over 3,000 complaints and petitions received nationwide from victims of human rights abuses. At the end of it all, the NRC will recommend appropriate redress for victims of abuse during the periods of unconstitutional rule (from 6 March 1957 to 6 January 1993).

At its maiden sitting, the NRC heard evidence from a veteran court interpreter, K. Banini, who wept together with a witness, E. N. Adjaye, as the horror of the ordeal meted out to Adjaye by policemen and soldiers after the overthrow of Nkrumah's government in February 1966, became too much to narrate.

Adjaye was detained unlawfully for two years and was notable to work for 10 years after his release. But by far, the most dramatic piece of evidence before the NRC has come from one of the former members of the Rawlings' PNDC military regime, Warrant Officer Adjei Boadi. He told a hushed Commission chamber that Kwesi Pratt, one of Ghanas best known "political and human rights" activists, who is also the editor of a weekly newspaper in Accra, was planted among political detainees to extract information for the PNDC, in effect a spy for a regime he publicly "fought against" and was "detained" several times by.

The audience was stunned, absolutely! The subsequent tension and silence in the chamber could be cut with a knife as Adjei Boadi went on to rubbish the image of Pratt as a "fighter against the PNDC and human rights activist", telling the NRC: "Kwesi Pratt goes about telling Ghanaians that he was detained for more than 15 years, but nobody could survive three detentions under the PNDC."

Boadi said Pratt even caused the arrest and detention of one of his [Pratt's] best known colleagues, Kweku Baako, also a newspaper editor' and added that but for him [Adjei Boadi], Baako would have been killed the very night he was arrested.

He said Pratt, a vociferous government critic, had not only tried to distort history by publishing false stories about the PNDC and given them a political twist to suit his agenda, he had also "almost succeeded" in creating confusion in the Ghana Armed Forces by using his association with former President Rawlings and other leading members of the PNDC. …