CHAIRMAN: Prof. Isaac Nguema
VICE CHAIRMAN: Prof. Emmanuel V.O. Dankwa
COMMISSIONERS: Mr. Robert H. Kisanga, Dr. Mohamed H. Ben Salem, Dr.
Vera V. Duarte Martins, Prof. U. Oji Umozurike, Mr. Atsu Koffi Amega,
Mr. Kamel Rezzag-Bara, Mrs. Julienne Ondziel-Gnelenga, Mr.
Youssoupha Ndiaye, Mr. Alioune Blondin Beye
||Abubakar v. Ghana, Comm. 103/93,
10th ACHPR AAR Annex X (1996-1997)
||IHRDA, Compilation of Decisions on
Communications of the African Commission On Human and Peoples’
Rights Extracted from the Commission’s Activity Reports 1994-2001,
at 133 (2002); Documents of the African Commission on Human and
Peoples’ Rights, at 571 (Malcolm D. Evans & Rachel Murray eds.,
2001; (2000) AHRLR 124 (ACHPR 96)
 Alhassan Abubakar is a Ghanaian citizen, presently residing in Côte
d’Ivoire. He was arrested on 16 June 1985 for allegedly cooperating with
political dissidents. He was detained without charge or trial for 7 years
until his escape from a prison hospital on 19 February 1992.
 After his escape, his sister and his wife, who had been visiting him,
were arrested and held for two weeks in an attempt to get information on the
complainant’s whereabouts. The complainant’s brother has informed him that
the police have been given false information about his return, and have on
several occasions surrounded his house, searched it, and subsequently
searched for him in his mother’s village. In the early part of 1993 the
UNHCR in Côte d’Ivoire informed the complainant that they had received a
report on him from Ghana assuring that he was free to return without risk of
being prosecuted for fleeing from prison. The report further stated that all
those detained for political reasons had been released.
 Complainant on the other hand holds that there is a law in Ghana which
subjects escapees to penalties from 6 months to 2 years imprisonment,
regardless of whether the detention from which they escaped was lawful or
 The communication is dated 26 July 1993. The complainant was sent a
questionnaire concerning communications on 11 August 1993 and returned it
completed. The Commission was seized at the 14th Session and the
communication was sent to the state concerned on 6 January 1994. No response
 The Commission tried without success to resolve this communication
THE LAW ADMISSIBILITY
 Article 56.5 of the Charter requires that all local remedies be
exhausted before the Commission can consider the communication, unless the
procedure is unduly prolonged. In this case the complainant is residing
outside the state against which the communication is addressed and thus
where the remedies would be available. He escaped to Côte d’Ivoire from
prison in Ghana and has not returned there. Considering the nature of the
complaint it would not be logical to ask the complainant to go back to Ghana
in order to seek a remedy from national legal authorities. Accordingly, the
Commission does not consider that local remedies are available for the
 As the communication fulfills all the other requirements of Article 56,
the Commission declares the communication admissible.
 Article 6 of the Charter reads:
“Every individual shall have the right to liberty and security of his person.
No one may be deprived of his freedom except for reasons and conditions
previously laid down by law. In particular, no one may be arbitrarily
arrested or detained.”
 The complainant contends he was arrested by the Government for alleged
collaboration with dissidents to overthrow the administration. He was
arrested under section 2 of the Preventive Custody Law of 1992 (P.N.D.C.L.
4) in the interest of national security. However, the complainant states he
was never charged with this offence nor brought to trial.
 The Government failed to provide further details of the relevant laws
on request, merely stating that “if the complainant has violated some laws,
he must stand trial for them in the national courts.” It is by now
well-settled law before the Commission that where no substantive information
is forthcoming from the government concerned, the Commission will decide on
the facts as alleged by the complainant (see, e.g., decisions on
communications 25/89, 59/91, 60/91, 64/92, 87/93 and 101/93).
 Article 7.1 of the Charter reads:
“1. Every individual shall have the right to have his case heard. This
d)the right to be tried within a reasonable time...”
 The complainant was detained in prison for seven years without trial
before his escape. This period clearly violates the “reasonable time”
standard stipulated in the Charter.
 Article 12.2 of the Charter reads:
“2. Every individual shall have the right ... to return to his country. This
right may only be subject to restrictions, provided for by law, for the
protection of national security, law and order, public health or morality.”
 The complainant alleges the existence of a law in Ghana permitting the
detention of escapees on their return to the country. The Government has
denied that the complainant would be imprisoned on grounds of escape on his
return, but concedes that he could be tried for any criminal offences that
he may have committed. The government has stated that all political
prisoners have been released, but the complainant provides evidence of other
escapees who were arrested on their return to Ghana and that there is some
indication that he would also be subject to the same treatment.
 The facts provided are insufficient to find that the complainant’s
right to return to his country has been violated.
 FOR THESE REASONS THE COMMISSION holds there has been a violation of
Articles 6 and 7.1(d) the Charter; urges the Government to take steps to
repair the prejudice suffered.
 Taken at the 20th session, Grand Bay, Mauritius, October 1996.