Justice for Talensi Orphan: Police keeping findings on “military brutality” from public

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When Media Without Borders contacted the police commander in charge of Talensi, a district in Ghana’s Upper East region, about five months ago concerning some torture reportedly visited on an orphan by four soldiers in his jurisdiction, he promised to make known the outcome of the command’s investigation within two weeks at the latest.

This is exactly how the commander, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Saeed Boachie Yiadom, put it in that telephone interview at 4:52 p.m. on Monday, 4 December 2023:

“We are on it. I was part of this thing [sic] who went there. And the military commander has [sic] also gone there. He’s also gone to do their interview or interrogation. And we hope to get results very soon. You just put your eye on the ground, you will hear something very soon. Okay, my brother?

“I can’t tell you what we are doing now but I’ve told you I led the team to the place and the military commander has [sic] also gone to the place. We went with the boys. They also went to Gbane and they did their interviews and interrogation. So, let’s see how it goes in a week or two.”

The District Police Headquarters, Talensi.

As suggested by the commander in his own words, Media Without Borders put its eye on the ground to “hear something very soon” as assured by him but has heard nothing from the commander from December 4, 2023, to date.

He did not answer any of the several telephone calls placed to him in the last five months. He also did not reply to a written question sent to him via WhatsApp for answers on the investigation conducted by the police command on the alleged military excesses.  

Reason for the alleged torture

Media Without Borders broke the story of the 15-year-old boy, Clement Zing, three days after four soldiers reportedly maltreated him at Gban, a suburb of the district, on Monday, 20 November 2023.

The torture allegedly took place inside the yard of Earl International Group (Ghana) Gold Limited, a Chinese large-scale gold miner known previously as Shaanxi Mining Company Limited.

The yard of Shaaxi, otherwise known as Earl International Group (Ghana) Gold Limited, at Gban in Talensi.

Explaining what led to his ordeal to the author of this story, the boy said he was taking a video selfie with his uncle’s phone on the afternoon of that Monday when the soldiers suddenly came from behind him and, claiming that he was filming them, took him away.

He said, on arriving in the yard, they removed his shirt, tied his hands together behind his back and flogged him countless times with steel cables twisted together.

The back of Clement Zing.

Zing added that while he was being beaten, one of the soldiers held a knife to his neck, threatening to kill him if he did not stop screaming and if he failed to explain why he was filming them before they led him into a room in the Chinese company’s yard and locked him up there for hours.

“After beating me, they destroyed the phone,” he said in Talen, the language spoken in the district. “The phone belongs to my uncle who is looking after me because my parents are dead”.

Treatment, Denial and Promise

The boy’s parents died one year apart— his father in 2017 and his mother the following year.

Eyewitnesses said after the soldiers released him from the room, he went home but fainted on arrival as a result of the torture.

The orphan, Clement Zing, after the torture.

Marks showing extreme cable flogging could be seen all over his body. The beating also left a big swelling around the right side of his groin, several red cuts to his face and arms as well as some sunken spots on his head.

When he regained consciousness through an emergency treatment he received at an over-the-counter medicine shop in the locality, his family shaved his head because of the wounds on his scalp and reported the matter to the District Police Command in Tongo, the Talensi capital.

Zing’s body after the brutality.

His uncle, Thomas Mogya, and some other members of the family took him to the district hospital in Tongo for further treatment.  

The soldiers in question were said to be part of a military task force stationed inside the Chinese company’s yard for security purposes.

Clement Zing.

While the foreign company denied the excesses occurred in its yard, authorities of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) in the region promised they would get to the bottom of the matter and punish those accused of the brutality if found liable.

Ghana’s Inspector-General of Police, Dr. George Akuffo Dampare.

Media Without Borders will have little choice but to lodge a petition with the Right to Information Commission if the district police command in Talensi continues to ignore requests for answers on this matter.

Clement Zing with the author of this report during an interview at the Talensi District Hospital in November 2023.

Source: Edward Adeti/Media Without Borders/mwbonline.org

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