Professor Kenneth Attafuah who was the Executive Secretary of the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) has commended the government for following up on the recommendations of the commission.
He said recent reports of the de-confiscation of assets and their return to the owners could not have come at a better time.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra, Prof Attafuah said that even though he was satisfied with the implementation process of the recommendations so far he had some concerns.
Beginning with the timing of the announcement of the de-confiscation of assets, Prof Attafuah was of the view that because some people might have acquired legal rights to these assets over the years, a process of engagement with all sides had to begin and that had taken time.
“The return of the confiscated assets is one that I will defend the government in saying that they could not have rushed to return those properties. It could only have been the result of a process, because in most cases third party rights had accrued,” he said.
Unlike the assets, the payment of compensation for rights abuse was detailed by the NRC in volume one of its reports, tabling the nature of violations and the corresponding monetary token to be paid to beneficiaries, he pointed out, and that had also taken about two years.
He said as far as the monetary compensation of people who suffered violations was concerned this was done through an office set up at the Attorney General’s Department and headed by Justice V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe.
‘’The government after accepting the report of the NRC and issuing a white paper, moved to implement the recommendations by starting immediately to better the condition of the most disadvantaged victims who suffered and hence the payment of the compensation to begin with,’’ he said.
Although the monetary compensation was just a token in some instances, it was most welcomed by some beneficiaries who used it in fitting memorials in cases where they had lost a family member as a result of an abuse.
Dr Attafuah, however, said he had concerns about other recommendations in the report that had not been carried out.
Referring to a paper prepared and presented by him about a year ago at a programme organised by the National Governance Programme, titled “Promises to keep: Issues paper on outstanding recommendations from the report of the National Reconciliation Commission,” he mentioned the wide publication and dissemination of the NRC report, symbolic reparations that included the rendering of apologies and the staging of commemorative events, as well as community reparation that also included the reconstruction of the Namoo market in the border town of the Upper East Region, as outstanding promises to be kept.
He, therefore, called on bodies such as the National Commission on Civic Education and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to collaborate and come out with abridged versions of the report for all pupils and students.
Prof Attafuah said it was proper for the government to endeavour to implement some of the recommendations before leaving office despite the fact that the NRC was a statutory creation.
He said it would not be amiss for President Kufuor to render an apology, particularly to women on the violations they suffered under certain regimes before leaving office.
For him, the NRC was not an elite club that came out with recommendations to suit particular groups, but was a broad based and engaging process that involved ordinary people and all those who had suffered some human rights abuse.
The NRC’s processes of statement making, investigation and hearing processes, he added, was the most nationally and internationally engaging process of reconciliation ever undertaken in the country.
DAILY GRAPHIC, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2008, PG 14