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Castle Sex Tape: Ghanaians Have The Right To know

Thu, 12 May 2011 Source: Bonna, Okyere

According to General News of Wednesday, 11 May 2011, Soldiers of ‘Castle Sex Tape’ have been found guilty (Source: Joy Online).

It must be recalled that some three years ago, it was reported that some soldiers forced women found loitering around the Osu Castle to have sex at gunpoint. The incident, which took place in 2008, became public after a widely circulated video of the incident caught the attention of the general public and human right activists, who called for an investigation into the incident.

The report says that after weeks of investigations into the shameful incident, the soldiers have been found guilty and have been sanctioned accordingly. The strange thing though is that no one knows what kind of disciplinary measures have been or would be meted out to the guilty soldiers.

The Public Relations Officer of the Military High Command, Col. Mbawuni Atintande has admitted that “two naval personnel have been identified after some investigations. He has also stated that per the Military regulations, this is a very reprehensible act and that “it’s an offence they have to do something about it.”

However, he would not mention what the Military High Command was going to do or have done.

Reading through the report one can easily suspect that these soldiers have or would actually not receive any punishment at all. If they have (or had) then it must be a very minimal punishment for their crimes and this could lead to more repetitive episodes to endangering the lives of innocent women. Col. Mbawuni Atintande has failed to reveal the type of punishment meted out to the officers but has said, “Certainly they have been punished because of the act that they have done which we, the Armed Forces, think that it is reprehensible.” Since this is a public crime or offence it is imperative that the public know what kind of punishment these two soldiers got. It can not be kept secret. Whenever one hears this phrase, “sanctioned accordingly” without details of the sanctions one is likely to find under microscope that nothing was done beyond verbal warnings. In this case the gravity of the matter is far too great to be resolved with just a verbal warning. This is a criminal case. The final case should be tried in a court of law, not a disciplinary team. If even terrorists are tried in civil courts; why can't Ghanaians try soldiers who raped a civilian in the civil court?

The sad news is that it is possible this has been going on for a while until they were caught on tape. It was not just a one day incident. Think of the many women these soldiers and their cohorts have devastated. If these have not been soldiers working at the Castle would they have been treated differently? Ghanaians have the right to know.

1. Who tried the soldiers? Was it a civilian court, military court, or just a panel of government officials?

2. What motivated them to do such indecent act?

3. What specific verdict was arrived by the panel and how was it arrived?

4. What are their individual sentences?

The people of Ghana, especially the families of their victims have the right to know. If it were any civilian or any soldier working outside of the Castle, would the process have been different? The rule of law must prevail here. We should all be judged by the same standards as Ghanaians. Unless they have diplomatic immunity I submit the soldiers be tried in an open court.

The Government and Ministry of Justice must know that Ghanaians are not happy at the outcome or report and they are not going to rest until they know what kind of sanctions were received.

1. The rape occurred at “Gun Point". Was it a war time? Imagine the trauma these innocent women had to experience. We only hear of such cases in war torn places but not in our fairly peaceful country. If these soldiers have been found to be "rapists" then they should be tried by the courts. I hope the naval law is not all that different from the laws for the common Ghanaian. We are all governed by the same Constitution. This is a clear case of abuse and violation of human right. Therefore Ghanaians have the right to know what happened to the navy men.

2. Give the victims the opportunity to pursue their case further at a civil court where they can be compensated for the wrong done to them. Some one has suggested, “The affected women should include GAF in their lawsuit together with the ugly unprofessional zombies who have tormented Ghanaians for too long”.

3. The rest of the Military must be vindicated by bringing out the spoilt ones. Who are these soldiers that are bringing shame upon the many decent and law-abiding Ghanaian soldiers out there? At least, they should be asked to come out publicly to apologise to their victims and all decent and law-abiding Ghanaian soldiers.

4. We cannot conceal their crime and pretend all is fine and will not happen again. This was a disgraceful act.

5. The Navy or the Castle (where the soldiers work) must do well to compensate the victim for their human rights abuse.

Again Ghanaians need to know which court tried the soldiers. And what sanctions were meted upon the rapists?

Can the woman sue the government for negligence? Do they have a case to sue the Armed Force of Ghana for dereliction?

Okyere Bonna

www.okyerebonna.com

The author is the author of Stopping the Carnage on Africa Roads, A New Agenda for Ghana (Vol. I & II), Ghana, Conversation and Development, Ghana, the Rediscovered Soccer Might (SPORTS)’ (www.okyerebonna.com) And co- author of Traditional Institutions and Public Administration in Democratic Africa (http://www.africaninstitutions.com),

Columnist: Bonna, Okyere