By Edmund MIngle
Tuesday, 08 July 2008
A board of enquiry is being set up by the management of the 37 Military Hospital to investigate allegations of detention and torture of some commercial drivers and their mates by military guards at the hospital as punishment for traffic offences in front of the hospital.
"The board will determine the charges to be levelled against the culprits," a source close to the hospital’s management told the Ghanaian Times yesterday.
This paper reported yesterday that for the past three weeks, recalcitrant drivers arrested by military guards for parking wrongly in front of the hospital or dropping off or picking passengers there, were allegedly detained in the hospital’s mortuary as punishment.
The punishment also included cleaning and arranging corpses and mopping the mortuary floor.
The setting up of the board follows a directive from the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) to the hospital to investigate the matter and those found culpable, punished.
A GAF release issued yesterday and signed by the Public Relations Director, Colonel E.W.K. Nibo, said appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against the guards if they are found to have misconducted themselves.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) yesterday condemned the cruel treatment meted out to the drivers and mates concerned
"CHRAJ believes the incident is unacceptable and goes against Article 15 of the Constitution," Comfort Akosua Edu, the Commission’s Public Affairs Manager told the Times in reaction to the story.
Article 15 of Chapter five, which has provisions protecting the fundamental human rights and freedoms of citizens, states among other things that: (1) the dignity of all persons shall be inviolable, (2) no person shall, whether or not he is arrested, restricted or detained, be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment and (3) a person who has not been convicted of a criminal offence shall not be treated as a convicted person".
The Commission, she said, would hold on taking up the matter since that the Commander of the Hospital, Brigadier-General Wadhwani, has acted by taking steps to reprimand the perpetrators.
"We want to agree with the Commander who swiftly condemned the act and plans to discipline those soldiers," she said, adding that "the Commission will take the Commander at his word.The commission would have handled the matter differently if they had not accepted their fault."
Mrs. Edu explained that the country’s legal system requires that suspects are handed over to the police for prosecution and for the law courts to determine their guilt or innocence and hand down appropriate sentence if found guilty.
On Friday, when the Commander’s attention was drawn to the way the soldiers were treating the offending drivers and their mates, he immediately summoned those involved and declared his intention to institute disciplinary action against the perpetrators, including a woman Lieutenant-Colonel, a number of corporals and the mortuary attendants.
The mortuary attendants, on Friday, admitted to the Commander, in the presence of the Times that the drivers and their mates who were brought in batches to the mortuary by the soldiers, were given work to do, but denied forcing them to arrange corpses.
The Lt- Col. also admitted that she ordered that the offending drivers be given work to do in the mortuary on Thursday, but said she did not follow up to see the type of work they were given.