A Coalition of Civil Society Organisations Against Political Vigilantism (CCSAPV), has called on government to fully implement the Report of the Emil-Short Commission that investigated the Ayawaso West Wuoguon bye-election violence.
According to the Coalition, the government decision to reject most of the recommendation of the Commission through the White Paper, sought to undermine the work of the commission and further belittle the intelligence of Ghanaians.
The Coalition made the demand at a press conference in Accra on Tuesday, September 24, 2019.
The government in its White paper rejected most of the Recommendation by the Short Commission to prosecute some members of the so-called National Security Operatives that carried out the unlawfully attacks and wounded persons with guns and others.
The Commission recommended that the said officers be prosecuted for using firearms without authority and also assault on Hon. Samuel Nartey George, Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram.
The government also turned down the commission recommendation that senior officers of the national security including Bryn Acheampong, Minister for National Security at the Presidency be reprimanded.
The government also failed to rightly implement the Commission recommendation that some individuals that were personally affected be compensated and rather referred the compensation to the Attorney General for advice.
This, the Co-Chair of CCSAPV, Mensah Thompson told Journalists at a press conference, the government decision to dismissed most of the Commission recommendation was a clear manipulation of the Report through it white paper on an event which was vividly captured and seen by Ghanaians.
He said, though the Coalition has no such powers to force the government, they are of the view that persons cited by the commission for various offences ought to be prosecuted, while the victims also get compensated.
They disagreed with government white paper exonerating persons directly capture for various offences, arguing that such action by the government would rather embolden them to do worse things in the future.
“If the Government knew it has the solution to the violence that occurred at AWW, what was the need for setting up the Commission of Inquiries?, ” Mr Thompson asked rhetorically.
The Coalition, however, gave the government a one-week ultimatum to implement the Emil-Short Commission Report, specifically on the prosecution of offenders and compensation of victims.
They said failure to adhere to their demand, would be met with activities including demonstrations, among other civil rights activities in the country.
While applauding that the passage of the Vigilantism Bill has reduced the activities of vigilantes, the Coalition raised alarm that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government has successfully recruited most of the vigilantes into Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies security forces.
Mr Thompson expressed worry that, if care is not taken, such undercover recruitment by the governing party could lead to another form of insecurity as their operation at the local government assemblies are not clearly defined.
Below Is Full Statement
PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE COALITION OF CSO’S AGAINST POLITICAL VIGILANTISM-CCSAPV ON THE SHORT COMMISSION’S REPORT AND THE GOVT WHITE PAPER ISSUED
Good Morning Distinguished Members of the Press, thank you for honouring our invitation to this Press Conference at such short notice. (We appreciate your time and Presence)
We have summoned you here today as a Coalition of Civil Societies across the country that have come together to execute an action plan to augment the State’s efforts in eliminating Political Violence and its associated Vigilante Practises from our body Politics.
There was as an utmost need for such a Coalition after the Ayawaso West Wuogon incident earlier this year, considering the gravity of the violence, the damage to lives and properties; it was indeed such a wake up call for us Civil Societies to uprise against electoral violence and to take steps to safeguard the Peace and Stability of this Country.
We have since been busy working hard behind the scenes to come up with a robust framework for Peace for the 2020 general elections which will focus on a collaborative effort between Civil Society and the Security Agencies to control violence before, during and after the 2020 elections.
The framework will soon be piloted during the upcoming District Assembly Elections and will be perfected before the 2020 General Elections.
We have also been actively involved in the Mediation process activated by Government between the Political Parties and the Peace Council geared towards the disbandment of Vigilante Groups and Party Militias.
We have observed that following the activation of the Peace talks and the subsequent passage of the Vigilantism and Related Offenses Act, there seems to be a partial collapse of Vigilante Groups from both sides.
But we also observed that some of these Vigilante Groups or Party Militias of governing Party have been absorbed by the various District Assemblies for what purposes we cannot immediately tell as we still looking into the matter and a final report will be published soon.
We are urging the government to as a matter of urgency to take steps to rid the various MMDA’s off these Groups.
Today we have summoned you here because a few days ago, government caused to be published the Report of the Justice Emile Short Commission that was set up to probe the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence, Government has subsequently issued a White Paper on the Report and it is important that as a Coalition we present to you our key stakeholders our impartial observations.
First of all, we want to congratulate the Emile Short Commission for a great job done!
We have had by-election violence since the inception of the fourth Republic, from Talensi to Chereponi to Amenfi East to Atiwa and others, this is the first time we have had a commission of Enquiry to look into the possible causes of such electoral violence and we want to commend the government for setting up this Commission.
The Commission did not also disappoint, they discharged their mandate with dexterity considering the circumstances and we are content with their findings and recommendations.
On this occasion, we shall focus more on the White Paper issued by Government on the Report.
First of all, the Government has absolutely NO basis to reject some of the findings of the report.
We have seen and heard some government spokespersons attempting to rationalise government’s rejection and comparing, the white paper issued on this report to previous white papers issued on the report of the commission of enquiries.
For the avoidance of doubt, we totally disagree with the government, because comparing a white paper issued on a corruption enquiry to a white paper issued on a matter of National Security is like comparing apples to oranges.
*What has happened is like having a sore on your legs, you called on your doctor for checkup and the doctor says he has to conduct a test, after the test the doctor gives you the test results saying it is a cancerous sore and you say you disagree with your doctor because you think it’s a lesion.*
-First of all, if you had the ability to tell what sore it is, then why bother the doctor?
-Secondly, if the thing is cancerous sore and you say it is a lesion, the day it will knock you down, it may be too late or impossible for the doctors to save you.
Therefore accepting the impartial findings of the Justice Emile Short Commission report is the first step in addressing the issue of electoral violence that has become a matter of National concern now.
If you look at the work of the Commission, evidence was taken from everyone that mattered in the investigations, and based on their proximity to the incident and the credibility of the witness, the Commission which comprises of the former (CHRAJ boss, a renowned International Judge, a brilliant lawyer and a retired Police Chief) arrived at the findings they did.
Government ( the President or the Attorney General) was not by any way present at the site of the incident on the said day and may have also depended on the accounts of some government officials who were also eyewitnesses to also arrive at the position of the government.
But in the white paper, you can see clearly that in rejecting some of the findings of the report, Government dwelled so much on the evidence of the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission and also the presiding officer of the Electoral Commission who with respect to their task on the day could not be anywhere close to where the violence took place.
We believe that the posture taken by the government in all essence undermines the possibility of any lessons that could be learnt from the AWW incident because the government is still living in denial (on the seriousness of what happened at Ayawaso West Wuogon) during the by-election!
On the Recommendations, government’s decision to reject some of the recommendations is practically flawed (considering how much evidence exists in the public domain about the incident), and this is dangerous and could be a recipe for disaster.
For example, Government decision to reject the recommendation to prosecute the operative who assaulted the sitting Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram Hon Samuel Nartey George because there was some provocation (in itself quite provocative) and to a large extent creates the impression of a tacit government approval for the assault and other forms of violence that happened at Ayawaso West Wuogon. This could be described as Government Condoning and supporting Violence.
This we believe could potentially embolden operatives and Party Groups to use more violence or excessive force on unarmed civilians during elections.
And this could also potentially cause civilians to put their safety in their own hands during elections and this could degenerate into violent encounters that can undermine the Peace of this Country.
We are therefore calling on the government to rescind its decision NOT to prosecute the operative.
On compensations, we realised the government did not exhibit any sign of empathy or sensitivity towards the people who were injured during the violence.
There was not a strong acceptance of the recommendations to pay reparations to persons who were injured or lost their properties except to say the matter would refer to the appropriate quarters.
We demand that in the coming days the government comes up with a compensation package and a clear procedure for compensating the affected victims to ensure that Justice is served unto these individuals.
Finally, we CSO’S are not particularly impressed with the general position of government on the Report, We therefore give government a one week ultimatum to change its position on the report, accept the findings and recommendations and come up with a roadmap for implementation of the recommendations and to instil confidence in the Security Agencies and also into the Public that at every point in time during the 2020 elections, the State will protect everyone equally in furtherance of the Peace and Stability of this Country.
Our ultimatum is one week, after the one-week ultimatum, we shall serve notice for further action.
We thank you for time and patience.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Nyaaba