Opinion: Celebrate June 4th and Abrogate Indemnity Clause – By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

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Ghana’s former President Jerry John Rawlings

I haven’t lived in the country for a little over a generation now, but being an avid patron of Ghanaian media websites and an active contributor myself, I cannot help but be sympathetic with the stance of citizen lawyers like Mr. Yaw Boafo who would have annual celebrations of the June 4th Uprising and the December 31st Coup-d’état, both of which were led by former President Jerry John Rawlings, abolished (See “Abolish 31st December and June 4th Commemoration – Lawyer Boafo” Ultimatefmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 1/9/18).

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Ordinarily, in a constitutional democracy such as ours, the celebration of even the most odious and horrific events are allowed or tolerated in the name of the inalienable right of those with dissenting, and even the most hateful, views to express themselves. What makes the continuous celebration of December 31st and June 4th, as these dark historical milestones are popularly known, exceptional cases is the fact that the architects of the horrors engendered by these veritable acts of criminality and injustice were never brought to account.

Instead, to ensure a clean break with the horrid past, and to prevent an endless culture of vendetta, an Indemnity Clause was inserted into the country’s Fourth-Republican Constitution for the protection of the criminal actors of both June 4th, 1979, and December 3, 1981, events that brought about a hitherto unprecedented bloodshed. In negotiating for an Indemnity Clause to be inserted into the country’s 1992 Constitution, the unmistakable implication here was that Chairman Rawlings and his associates and partners in crime had accepted the fact that they had committed a lot of atrocities that were legally and judicially punishable, including the imposition of the death penalty.

In essence, being granted indemnity ought to come with the clear understanding that the horrid, bloody and criminal past had been permanently put to rest. Paradoxically, however, it well appears that the beneficiaries of the Indemnity Clause have mistaken the latter to imply that Ghanaians have forgotten the wanton atrocities committed against them, personally, and their relatives, neighbors and friends. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Letting bygones be bygones means that we do not want to revisit the savage past of which the Rawlingses and the Tsikatas and their cousins, allied families and cronies were the protagonists. But such civilized act of forgiveness must not be misconstrued to imply that the bloody and vindictive events of June 4th and December 31st are noble acts or events to be lauded, cherished and celebrated.

If citizens like Lawyer Boafo want to be taken seriously, and I am quite certain that this is not the first of such suggestion, they need to take their case to the Supreme Court of Ghana and possibly the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) as well. If they persist in celebrating these darkest moments in our postcolonial history, then the likes of Chairman Rawlings and former President John Dramani Mahama had better be prepared to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And by the latter, of course, I am talking about laws preexisting our Fourth-Republican Constitution and dispensation.

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com  Ghanaffairs

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