PRAAD was behind Ghana’s ITLOS victory - COCA
After Ghana won the maritime dispute case against Cote D’Ivoire at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), many have showered praises on the legal faces behind the case.
But, according to the Coalition of Concerned Archivists (COCA), the Public Records and the Archives Administration Department (PRAAD), deserves greater commendation for providing the necessary archival materials that enabled the lawyers to present a strong case against Cote D’Ivoire.
According to COCA it was worrying that, in showering praises for the victory, no mention has been made of the yeoman's role that PRAAD played.
"We the Coalition of Concerned Archivists believe the special chamber arrived at its verdict as a result of undisputed documentary evidence regarding the Ghana Cote D’Ivoire maritime borders which have been kept by the Public Records and Archives Administration Department (PRAAD) for close to 40 years," COCA said in a statement issued and signed by Isaac Newton Nyagbe as Chief Convener.
"These documents were tendered in as evidence by counsels representing Ghana which made their presentation so much easier for them," it added.
Below is a copy of the statement by COCA on the role that PRAAD played
THE HARD TRUTH BEHIND THE JUDGEMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL FOR THE LAW OF THE SEA. (ITLOS) BETWEEN GHANA AND COTE D’IVOIRE
At a public sitting held on the 23rd September 2017, the special chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), constituted to deal with the dispute concerning delimitation of the maritime boundary between Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire in the Atlantic Ocean delivered its judgment through Judge Boualem Bouguetaia, president of the special chamber.
We the Coalition of Concerned Archivists believe the special chamber arrived at its verdict as a result of undisputed documentary evidence regarding the Ghana Cote D’Ivoire maritime borders which have been kept by the Public Records and Archives Administration Department (PRAAD) for close to 40 years.
These documents were tendered in as evidence by counsels representing Ghana which made their presentation so much easier for them.
After the verdict on the 23rd September, 2017, praises were rained on the Attorney General’s Department for a yeoman’s job and nothing said about the Public Records and the Archives Administration Department that provided strong evidence to buttress the perfect presentation by the Attorney General and her team.
Few weeks ago, we woke up to the news that records at the Ghana Maritime Authority got burnt after the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) notified the authority of a forensic audit it intended to conduct.
Earlier the Executive Director of the Authority in an interview on the mid-day news on Star FM on the 25th August, 2017 had advised the Government to “take archiving and digitization of its records seriously because it was archival documents that helped secure the victory at ITLOS against Côte d’Ivoire.” What an irony
We the Coalition of Concerned Archivists call on the management of the Ghana Maritime Authority to investigate this matter and further prosecute the culprits if there is any.
A visit to the Public Records and Archives Administration Department (PRAAD) reveals that 20 to 30 years from now very important records kept in the national interest of Ghana from the Colonial Administration through to the 3rd Republic would turn into powder due to the devastating conditions under which they are maintained.
It is only fair that since the Public Records and Archives Administration Department has delivered on its mandate, it is equally important that government responds appropriately to solve its pressing needs to put PRAAD in a better position to preserve the nations collective memory for years to come.
Another concern of COCA is the failure of state institutions to adhere to the provisions of section 23 of the State Contract and Property Act 1960 (CA.6) by depositing original copies of contracts and agreements entered into on behalf of the state with the National Archives at the Public Record and Archives Administration Department. Failure to comply with this provision has led to the payment of unnecessary judgment debts as the perennial loss of relevant documents as was revealed in the Judgment Debt Commission report.
We therefore, wish to draw the President’s attention to this very important department to re-equip and resource PRAAD to fully carry out its mandate.
We also call on the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences and other Civil Society groups to come to the aid of the Public Records and Archives Administration Department.
ABOUT COALITION OF CONCERNED ARCHIVIST (COCA)
The Coalition of Concerned Archivists is an advocacy group which is geared towards promoting good recordkeeping practices to promote probity, transparency and accountability for good governance.
COCA exists to enlighten and create awareness on the need to take records and archival management seriously and ensure records management policy adherence by public institutions with reference to the Public Records and Archives Administration Department Act, 1997 (Act 535) and other relevant Acts of Parliament regarding records management in Ghana.
COCA further seeks to dialogue with Government and Parliamentarians on the Right to Information Bill by advocating strongly for improved public records management systems before the Bill is passed into law.
Isaac Newton Nyagbe