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General News Mon, 9 Sep 2002

NRC - Complaints Toll Increasing

The number of complaints being taken at the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) has shot up from two-hundred and eighty nine as at last week Friday to over three-hundred and fifty at the time of going to press yesterday afternoon.

Members of the public, mostly old and frail looking people seem undeterred by the long flight of stairs of the Independence Square office of the NRC headquarters, and since the commission opened its doors last week, have been filing there daily to lodge their complaints.

The NRC was established by Act 611 of Parliament early this year to investigate human rights abuses and violations. A break down of the statistics shows that Accra is leading with two hundred and twenty seven complaints followed by Kumasi with eighty-one, then Ho with twenty four and eighteen for Takoradi.

Mr. Mohammed Awal of the Public Affairs section of the NRC told ADM that the Tamale office of the NRC would start work today and that of Bolgatanga, tomorrow.

Asked why those centres could not begin work earlier, Mr. Awal said it was due to lateness in getting office accommodation.

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He said most of the statements centre on torture, disappearances, confiscation of properties and unlawful dismissal from work places.

He said work is progressing smoothly and the Chairman of the Commission has expressed satisfaction with media reports so far because the media has so far adhered to the commission's advice to protect the identities of complainants.

A retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice K.E. Amua-Sakyi, chairs the nine-member commission.

Statements taken from complainants would be referred to the NRC's investigators for their action after which they will be forwarded to the NRC's legal advisers before being submitted to the commission.

The NRC is mandated to look into abuses during the periods from February 24, 1966 to August 21, 1969, January 13, 1972 to September 23, 1979 and December 31, 1981 to January 6, 1993.

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The public could lodge complaints or petitions in respect of violations or abuses of human rights outside those periods of unconstitutional governments and between March 6 1957 and January 6, 1993. The NRC is allotted a one-year time frame to finish its work from the first day it holds its public hearing unless a good cause is shown by the commission in which case the President by Executive Instrument shall extend the term of the commission for a period of six months.

At the end of its work, the commission shall within three months submit its final report to the President.

The media's restraint so far is because the commission has not yet started its public hearings in which petitioners would relate under cross-examinations details of their claims and witnesses called. That is when the media's maturity would be put to the fullest test.

Source: .