On the 2nd of January 2019, it was widely reported by most media houses across the length and breadth of Ghana, that 8 Togolese soldiers had breached Ghana’s territorial boundaries in pursuit of a fleeing ‘dissident’.
Following up on the issue, a statement to the press by the Volta Regional Police Commander, DCOP Francis Doku, indicated that these soldiers had not followed necessary procedures to adhere to when the issue was beyond their territory in their attempt to arrest a fleeing Togolese national they considered a dissident and had sought asylum in the village of Aboako, a Ghanaian community in the Jasikan district of the Volta Region.
There is a right of asylum; however because Ghana is a lawful country if not a banana republic, 3 of these soldiers who were rounded up by the good people of that community, were freed by the Ghana police under the instructions of the District Chief Executive.
Ian Martin, former Secretary General of Amnesty International, recently observed: “Government…..are more often motivated by self-interest than by considerations of humanity, and this provides a further reason for those seeking to combat human rights violations to insist upon the right of asylum.”
Under the 1951 convention on refugees to which Ghana is a signatory, a refugee is someone who:
1. has a well-founded fear of persecution on basis of his/her race, religion, nationality or membership in a particular group or political opinion and is outside his/her country of origin.
2. Persons fleeing war zones, persecution or persons from refugee producing countries do not necessarily require travel documents to enter Ghana. It is generally accepted if such persons enter either through an approved/unapproved route. If refugee/asylum seeker enters Ghana through an unapproved route, he/she must however proceed to the nearest immigration office for the necessary formalities after entry. (GIS)
With that established, our supreme constitution clearly recognizes that Ghana has a mandate to grant asylum to dissidents, yet this recent action on the side of authorities is worrying and thus raises much concerns.
QUESTIONABLE ACTION: It is clear that due processes were overlooked on both sides, that of the Togolese and the Ghanaian authorities who took the decision at the local level to free these soldiers through mere conversations.
Knowledge on whether the dissident was captured and taken to Togo or not is somewhat not clear. But it is established that 8 soldiers entered that community, 3 were captured by the community folks who were vigilant and resisted the soldiers, whiles the rest bolted back into Togo.
The question on the minds of many is, did those 5 soldiers who managed to escape leave with the dissident they were in pursuit of?
What due process or what necessitated the District Chief Executive and the District Police Commander to release the 3 soldiers who were rounded up by the community folks? If the villagers had not been on their feet and vigilant, would our security agencies know of this illegal cross-border arrest?
One is forced to believe that there were some critical procedures in handling such diplomatic situations that both the DCE and the Police commander did not adhere to, or are completely ignorant about. Such that one may question, is it within their mandate to free arrested military officers who have defied Ghana’s sovereignty? Are they in the know of Ghana`s sacred duty not to return to a fleeing dissident until due processes are fulfilled? Are both sides aware of the duties of the Interpol?
In the light of this, it is important that to insist effectively upon the right of asylum, not only the asylum seeker but also the appropriate law enforcement agencies and all other agencies of government and non-government organisations must first ascertain its contours and understand the state of that right in international law today so that the citizenry would be properly educated on.
I’m only sad and concerned for our brothers and sisters in Togo who for centuries have painfully endured political oppression and human rights abuses, so due to recent uprisings and persecutions have run into Ghana to seek asylum. If this military personnel are this emboldened to enter Ghana aggressively through unapproved route to effect an arrest at the blink side of Ghana`s security agencies, then we can only call on our Ghanaian authorities to awake from their slumber and ensure that the territorial integrity of Ghana is protected, respected and asylum seekers granted their rights and protection as the constitution states.
It is equally important that, the authorities in Ghana continue to respect the rights of refugees under the United Nation`s and the African Union conventions. As well as protecting every fleeing Citizen of Togo in this critical period in the face of the uprisings in their country.