While Ghana’s one of the most peaceful countries in Africa these days, this was not always the case. From independence in 1957 through the mid-1980s, Ghana was experienced a series of military coups, pervasive instability and human rights abuses.
In campaigning for election in 2000, Kufuor called for a National Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights abuses from 1957 to 1993. Over 4,000 complaints – ranging from torture and disappearance to seized property and difficulty finding jobs – have been reported to the commission and about 1,000 hearings have been held. As with South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Comission, if a crime is confessed, the confessor is given amnesty from prosecution.
From the reports I’ve seen in the Ghanaian media, there was a great deal of interest in the process early on, with televised proceedings dominating the airwaves and people’s conversations. Watching Metro TV last night, I caught a news story suggesting that people were satisfied with the work NRC is doing, but were growing bored with the process. After interviewing a number of men on the street who reported their satisfaction, Metro showed several mostly-empty courtroom interiors and a close-up shot of a commission member asleep at the judge’s bench.
I’m willing to bet that this is about to change – the NRC just called former President Rawlings to appear before the panel. Rawlings and his former security chief have been asked to testify regarding the 1982 murders of four men. Rawlings has been linked, in the past, to the execution of three former heads of state – it’s unclear from the stories I’m finding whether the four men referred to include these three former leaders, or represent another group of victims. Rawlings is currently out of the country – the summons will be delivered to him when he returns.
As always, don’t expect to hear much about this in the Northern media. A search for “ghana reconciliation” on news.google.com gets 48 results. Other than the Reuters story linked above, all stories are from GhanaWeb or AllAfrica.