A human rights advocacy organisation, Youth for Human Rights Africa (YoHRA), has mounted pressure on the Commission on Human Rights and administrative Justice to immediately investigate circumstances surrounding an assault on a teenager by two military personnel two years ago.
The group, headed by renowned human rights lawyer, Francis Xavier Sosu, has described as unacceptable the foot-dragging attitude of CHRAJ two years after the matter was referred to the institution.
“This certainly is unacceptable as the Ombudsman of the State with constitutional powers to guarantee and protect the rights of citizens,” a statement from YoHRA said on Wednesday, April 25,2018.
The victim, Christopher Kombian, then 16,was physically assaulted by two soldiers at the Kamina Barracks in Tamale in the Northern Region On 4th April, 2016, after they accused him of stealing a mobile phone.
The victim, according to reports, was handcuffed and hanged on a tree while the military personnel, Corporal Sampson Atuahene, Corporal Collins Eyison and one other whose identity has not yet been established, manhandled him till he became unconscious.
According to eyewitnesses, when the men realized that the victim was unconscious, they melted a rubber onto his skin in an attempt to revive him.
Sensing danger, they rushed him to a hospital where the victim was later referred to the 37 Military Hospital.
“Clinical Examination also revealed that patient had Multiple (Deep) assault and victim kept vomiting. The Dr. noted that the victim’s condition was not getting better and then referred him to 37 Military Hospital for CT Scan of the Head,” YoHRA said in the statement.
The scars from the abuse is still with Kombian who is now 18 years.
According the group, they lodged a complaint on 25th April, 2016, to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), to investigate the barbaric act on the minor.
The group’s statement says “It has been two years and yet, CHRAJ has been unable to conclude its investigations to publish and release the appropriate recommendations” adding “CHRAJ’s swiftness with which they have handled this matters leaves much more to be desired.”
YoHRA maintains it is “disappointing” that CHRAJ has dragged its feet on the issue. It says such attitude can lead to more of such abuses if CHRAJ continues to deal with “such major human rights violations in this manner.”
“… Under the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice Act 1993, (Act 456), the CHRAJ is among others empowered; To investigate complaints of violations of fundamental rights and freedoms, injustice, corruption, abuse of power, and unfair treatment of any person by a public officer in the exercise of his official duties, and To investigate complaints concerning the functioning of the Public Services, the administrative organs of state, the Armed Forces, the Police Service, and the Prisons Service in so far as the complaints relate to the failure to achieve a balanced structure of those services, or equal access by all to the recruitment of those services or fair administration in relation to those services,” the statement indicated.
The human rights group says it is very disappointing that for such a major public interest matter, the victim has still not seen justice after 23 months.
YoHRA again maintains that as a State institution, CHRAJ must assist Ghana to fulfil its obligation under Articles 55 of the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal respect for, observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
According to YoHRA, the said violation by officers of the State amounts to infringement of Ghana’s obligation and also an infringement of Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 7of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights both of which provides that no one shall be subjected to torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment.”
The said brutality, the group noted, “also violate Ghana’s obligation under the Convention against Torture, and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Finally the said treatment also violates Article 15 of the 1992 Constitution.”
YoHRA says “it feels very disappointed because this complaint was before CHRAJ, before other complaints like “Ford Mahamah” and “Kenbond Saga” which were all politically ‘high-temperatured’ cases” but those cases were investigated with speed leaving the poor victim’s untackled.
The group notes the sad incident “clearly feeds into the popular Ghanaian perception that the poor, vulnerable and voiceless has no justice in this Country,”
They have therefore called on CHRAJ to immediately prioritize the matter and give the victim justice.