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Removal of Indemnity Clause is call for anarchy – CRC

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Professor Albert K. Fiadjoe, Chairman of the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) on Tuesday stated that the removal of the Indemnity Clause (IC) from the 1992 Constitution would lead to anarchy in the country.

“It means that all governments since 1966 are illegal, that we must immediately handover the reigns of government to the Convention Peoples Party, we will criminalize all those who have participated in governments since the overthrow of the first republic and would also bring unnecessary interruptions in national affairs.

“The removal of the indemnities could adversely affect the democratic dispensation because it would give the negative impression that the country is reneging on a settlement that it has previously accepted.

“This could seriously undermine stability in the country,” Prof Fiadjoe stated at the end of a two-day Media Engagement on the Report of the CRC and the Government White Paper on the report organized by the CRC in collaboration with the Ministry of Information.

The workshop was attended by senior media practitioners from Volta and Greater Accra Regions, Ministers of State, CRC Commissioners, National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), religious and traditional rulers.

Responding to why the CRC failed to recommend for the removal of the Indemnity Clauses; Prof Fiadjoe explained that the principle underlying the IC in the 1992 Constitution is neither new nor unusual as the 1969 and 1979 Constitutions contained similar provisions.

“Section three of the first schedule of the 1969 Constitution and Section 15 and 16 of the first schedule to the 1979 Constitution indemnified the persons responsible for bringing about the changes in government on June 4th, 1979 – Rawlings first coup; January 13, 1972 – the Acheampong coup; and on February 24, 1966 – the Kotoka coup.

“Sub-section two to four of Section 15 of the first Schedule to the 1979 Constitution declared that no executive, legislative or judicial action taken or purported to have been taken by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) or in the name of that Council shall be questioned in any proceedings whatsoever.

“Even if the action was not taken in accordance with any procedure prescribed by law, including acts or omissions done in contravention of any law, whether substantive or procedural,” Prof Fiadjoe stated.

He noted that in all cases the relevant provisions on indemnities were entrenched by the respective Constitutions.

The CRC Chairman said the Commission observed that the indemnities under the 1992 Constitution were not different from those under the 1979 Constitution.

He noted that unlike the indemnities in the previous Constitutions, there were transitional provisions in the 1992 Constitution which sought to perpetuate the effects of acts of the unconstitutional regimes of 1979 and 1981 to 1992, some of which may have been unlawful and could be considered as abuses and violations of human rights.

“In this regard it is relevant to note that the transitional provisions of the 1969 Constitution granted certain facilities and favours –terminal awards to the persons responsible for the 1966 coup,” he stated.

The CRC Chairman said the Commission found out that indemnities could sometimes serve as an effective means for societies to come to terms with their painful past and bring about healing and reconciliation.

Prof Fiadjoe noted therefore that whatever may be the merits or demerits of the indemnities in the 1992 Constitution, it was not advisable or helpful to seek to remove them at this stage.

“The 1992 Constitution has helped to maintain peace and nurture democracy in Ghana for almost 20 years. No benefit will accrue to the country or to its democratic potential from a reopening of an issue that was put to rest a long time ago.

“On the contrary, an attempt to upset the existing arrangement is likely to create problems which the country can well do without.

“The Commission observes that repealing the indemnity provision in the 1992 Constitution requires amendment of provisions which are deeply entrenched. There is some doubt whether it will be possible to achieve this legally and bring such amendments into force.

“Also the successful adoption of such amendments would require a measure of consensus that does not appear to be achievable in the country at this time,” he stated.

Prof Fiadjoe said the Commission also observed that there would be serious difficulties in mounting successful prosecutions against persons concerned after such a long interval.

He said the Commission observed that instead of attempting the difficult task of removing the indemnities and the transitional provisions which established them, consideration might rather be given to the possibility of revisiting the work of the National Reconciliation Commission with a view to ascertaining whether further measures are needed to provide additional reparations or to assuage grievances.

Source: GNA

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