Document - UA 449/91 - Ghana: Health / legal concern: John Akparibo Ndebugre

EXTERNAL (for general distribution)AI Index: AFR 28/08/91

Distr: UA/SC

UA 449/91Health/legal concern18 December 1991

GHANAJohn Akparibo Ndebugre, lawyer, former government minister, former prisoner of conscience, opposition politician, National Organizer for the Movement for Freedom and Justice

John Ndebugre has been detained without charge and allegedly beaten and ill-treated. He is alleged not to have stood up promptly when Ghana's national anthem was being played. Amnesty International is concerned at reports that he is ill as a result of his harsh conditions of detention and is calling for his immediate and unconditional release on the grounds that he is a prisoner of conscience.

John Ndebugre was arrested on 10 December 1991 in Bawku, Upper East Region in northern Ghana, after a traditional rally attended by the head of state, Flight-Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings, Chairman of the ruling Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC). He apparently failed to stand up promptly when the national anthem was played and was arrested by members of Flight-Lieutenant Rawlings' bodyguard. They reportedly beat him; he was then held in custody, his head was brutally shaved, and he was forced to practise standing up for the national anthem.

According to some reports, he was subsequently charged at Bawku Magistrate's Court with "failing to show respect for the national flag" and acquitted for lack of evidence. Other reports suggest that he was also brought before the Magistrate's Court in Bolgatanga, the capital of the Upper East Region, which ruled that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case and discharged him. He was apparently re-detained on the orders of the PNDC and is believed to have become seriously ill in Bolgatanga prison as a result of the harsh conditions.

His legal status is unclear but it appears that he may be held in administrative detention under the Preventive Custody Law, PNDC Law 4 of 1982, which allows indefinite detention without charge or trial of any person suspected of threatening the security of the state. This law has frequently been used to detain prisoners of conscience.

A lawyer and opposition politician, in the early 1980s John Ndebugre was a Regional Secretary in northern Ghana and a Secretary (minister) for Agriculture in the PNDC government. General Secretary of the Kwame Nkrumah Revolutionary Guard, a political organization, he was previously detained without charge or trial from July 1987 until April 1988 because of his criticism of PNDC policies. He is currently the National Organizer for the Movement for Freedom and Justice, a human rights organization including several opposition political groupings.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Telegrams/telexes/express and airmail letters:

- expressing concern at the arrest of John Ndebugre, apparently for failing to stand up promptly for the national anthem, and at his continued detention in harsh conditions;

- expressing concern at reports that he was beaten and ill-treated by members of Flight-Lieutenant Rawlings' bodyguard following his arrest, and that he is ill as a result of his harsh conditions;

- requesting clarification of his current legal status;

- explaining that Amnesty International believes him to be a prisoner of conscience and calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

Page 2 of UA 449/91


1) Flight-Lieutenant J.J. Rawlings Dear Chairman

Chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council

Office of the PNDC

PO Box 1627

Castle, Osu

Accra, Ghana

Telegrams: Flt-Lt. Rawlings, Accra, Ghana

Telexes: 2132 SCALE GH or 2337 NATSEC GH

2) Captain Kojo Tsikata Dear Captain

PNDC member responsible for National Security and

Foreign Affairs Office of the PNDC

PO Box 1627

Castle, Osu

Accra, Ghana

Telegrams: Kojo Tsikata, Accra, Ghana

Telexes: 2132 SCALE GH or 2337 NATSEC GH

3) Mr E.G. Tanoh Dear Attorney General

Attorney General and Secretary for Justice

Ministry of Justice

PO Box M60

Accra, Ghana

Telegrams: Mr E G Tanoh, Accra, Ghana

4) Major-General W.M. Mensah-Wood Dear Major-General

Chief of Army Staff, General Officer Commanding the Ghana Armed Forces

Burma Camp

Accra, Ghana

Telegrams: Maj-Gen Mensa-Wood, Accra, Ghana

Telexes: 2077 BCAMP GH


Dr Obed Y. Asamoah

Secretary for Foreign Affairs

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

PO Box M53

Accra, Ghana

and the following newspapers:

The Christian Chronicle

PO Box 494

Dansoman Estate

Accra, Ghana

The Vanguard

PO Box 157


Accra, Ghana


PO Box 325

Kumasi, Ghana

Young and Old

PO Box 7304

Accra-North, Ghanaand to diplomatic representatives of Ghana in your country

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 29 January 1992.

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