A Lebanese businessman of Palestinian origin, Mahran Baajour, has alleged he was tortured in Ghana for well over a month.
“I was interrogated about the situation of the refugees in Lebanon, the Lebanese and Palestinian political forces, some terrorist activities and operations that were not related to me and I told them so. They tortured me in various ways for 35 days,” Baajour said in a statement to Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK).
He added: “They detained me in a narrow room, 1×1 meters, deprived me of sleep for up to three consecutive days, poured cold water on me and beat me on the head strongly, in addition to handcuffing my hands and feet all the time. They threatened me with kidnapping my 12-year-old daughter and killing her, while verbally abusing me.”
AOHR UK wants Ghanaian authorities to open an investigation into the alleged kidnapping and torturing of the 39-year-old and bring those responsible to justice, it said in a statement Monday.
It said Baajour was subjected to enforced disappearance and torture in Ghana by security agents, believed to be Mossad agents, since his arrest on 13 December 2018 until his release in March 2019.
Baajour arrived in Ghana on 13 December 2018 on a business trip. He was arrested after leaving the Kotoka International Airport in the capital Accra, without justification. He was arrested along with two other Ghanaian nationals who were at the airport to receive him; they were taken to an unknown location. The two Ghanaian men were later released and they informed Baajour’s family of his arrest.
“He was detained at the airport and when the family asked about his whereabouts, the reply was that he wasn’t in their custody,” his brother Jehad Baajour told reporters.
“During his detention, Baajour’s family contacted the relevant authorities in Ghana, including the Internal Intelligence, to inquire about the reasons and place of his detention; however, the authorities denied his presence in Ghana or that they had arrested him in the first place. His fate remained unknown until the moment of his release,” AOHR UK’s statement added.
AOHR UK confirmed that Baajour was subjected to physical torture, beating all over his body, psychological torture, insult and verbal abuse by white-skinned officers speaking little Arabic language. Some officers’ clothes had Hebrew writings on it.
“I asked them about the detention center or agency, they told me they are from the International Counter-Terrorism Agency. White-skinned men, who knew little Arabic, started investigating me. They were 14 men from different nationalities as they told me. I noticed on a coat, which belongs to one of them, Hebrew badges, Hebrew written papers, and some of them used Hebrew words like “Shekel”.
Baajour added, “I lost 25 kg of weight because of the starvation I
was subjected to. For the whole duration of my detention, I only ate one
tomato and a cucumber daily. I also suffered many injuries and bruises
due to torture. I asked to be seen by a doctor to treat my injuries, but
they ignored my request.
“I believe the interrogation process did not take place in one country. I was taken by plane for hours to change the location of the investigation. I was blindfolded and could not identify the location or the state.
“While releasing me, they told me not to speak of what had happened or the airport from which I traveled back, which was in Kenya as I learned later.”
“The Ghanaian authorities must bring those responsible for this crime to justice.
“AOHR UK condemns the cooperation between the Ghanaian and Kenyan security services with the Israeli Mossad, which is known for its brutality and its various international crimes,” the statement added.
AOHR UK calls on the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances and
the Special Rapporteur on torture to investigate the enforced
disappearance and torture of Baajour.
The issue first came to public attention when the Minority National Democratic Congress MPs raised the red flag about Baajour’s disappearance.
However, the Majority countered by denying the allegation.
“We wish to emphatically state that credible checks conducted at the National Security and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration affirm beyond a doubt that no such person had arrived at the Kotoka International Airport, contrary to the palpably false accounts given by the Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. It is abundantly clear that the claims of the Minority are false, unfounded and holding no truth. More so, failure on the part of the Ranking Member and the Minority to verify the facts with the relevant agencies prior to release of the statement, smacks of deliberate attempt to cause disaffection for the image and reputation of Ghana as they have often sought to do.
“We therefore strongly condemn the rather mischievous and most unpatriotic falsehood fabricated by the Minority and accordingly urge the general public to disregard and treat with the contempt it deserves, the obnoxious attempt by the Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Minority, to smear the highly reputed image of our beloved country Ghana in the comity of nations.
“Ghana is acclaimed in the international community as a country where human rights and the rule of law are creditably upheld and thus, any contemptible attempt by the Ranking Member and the Minority, to falsely portray our country otherwise, in pursuit of parochial and partisan interests should and must be condemned in no uncertain terms. It is our understanding that the National Security shall accordingly issue a response in due course,” John Ntim Fordjour, a lawmaker of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) said in a statement.