Following a successful statement taking pilot with Liberian refugees on the Buduburam Liberian refugee camp, Gomoa District, Republic of Ghana in May, the TRC recently implemented Phase III of the Ghana Diaspora project, where ten (10) community leaders on the camp were trained as Statement Takers. The purpose of training local statement takers is to assist the TRC collect statements from amongst 34, 0000 refugees currently residing on the Buduburam camp. The ten persons selected and trained as Statement Takers represent various civil society organizations on the camp including women’s groups, the Liberian Refugee Welfare Council, Religious groups, the Buduburam Teachers Association, and Youth group etc. The training was held for three days from Monday, June 18 - Wednesday June 20, 2007. The training was coordinated by the TRC Diaspora Relations Chairperson Commissioner Massa A. Washington.
Providing background on the Ghana III Project, Commissioner Washington informed the media in Liberia and Ghana that the TRC is committed in ensuring that Liberians abroad are provided the opportunity to participate in the TRC process. She said the TRC amongst several things, has the mandate to create a forum where all Liberians can discuss issues that have affected the nation, establish a factual account of violations and their antecedents, and advance appropriate recommendations for corrective measures. “But, unless we who have been charged with this responsibility can be creative in reaching our people and including their experiences, views and recommendations or suggestions in the TRC process, it would be near impossible to propose the kinds of recommendations that would truly reform Liberia for the better” Commissioner Washington Said. It is against this background that the ten persons were selected following background check on them. The Commissioner also stated that recruiting Statement Takers on the refugee camp empowers Liberian professionals who by no fault of their own find themselves languishing in refugee status. Besides, these people know the environment in term of cultural competence and can better relate to that population. Moreover, by recruiting local Statement Takers instead of flying in Statement Takers from Liberia, we empower our people intellectually and economically. “Life on Buduburam is hard and these people will get some relief by giving them stipend while they collect statements, it also saves cost for the TRC which is struggling financially” she said.
Presentations at the training were made by Commissioner Washington, Mr. Gabi Azzam, Outreach Officer of the TRC and Ms. Dolly Gbowee, Statement Taker from Gbapolu County. The team was assisted by Mr. Paul James Allen from the International Center for Transitional Justice who flew into Ghana from Sierra Leone for the training. Topics covered included: Understanding the TRC Process, its Mandate, Structure, and Functions, the Role of Statement Taking in the Work of the TRC, Basic Principles of Statement Taking, and Understanding the Statement Taking Form. Other topics included; Understanding Human Rights Law in the TRC Process, the Meaning and Scope of International Humanitarian Law, and the Nature of Violations in the TRC Process. Special Thematic areas of the TRC Mandate including; Women, Children, Youth, the Military, Political Institutions, and Civil Institutions etc were also discussed. The newly trained Statement Takers are expected to start collecting statements on July 1, 2007, and will do so for a period of six months until December 31, 2007.
2007 by The Perspective
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