OK so I just got word from my trusty colleague Gavin. He is in Ghana as you may recall; we flew him there to jumpstart the printing process so we can get the TRC report into the President's hands. We were told it would be with the President by the end of May, but that turned out to be an unrealistic timeframe...excerpts from Gavin's email below give you a flavor for the situation. The long and short of it is we hope to have the TRC report shipped via boat to the President by the first week of July, which means the clock starts ticking then on the two week timeframe for the publication of the White Paper.
I condensed his report to eliminate any inappropriate references to responsibility for the delays because at this point, we really just need to get the job done..but it will give you a little insight into the sometimes painfully minute components of movements for change....my only question is: why are the reports going by boat rather than plane? More on that soon.
I am meeting with Angie tomorrow night to brief her on this, and on the fact that our NGO parnters in Sierra Leone met with the Attorney General and had a productive first meeting on the White Paper development...
Now, as for printing the TRC report, Gavin explains:
At last I am finding the time to write a full update on the status of the report in Ghana. As today is the 1st of June, we have not managed to meet the promised delivery date of end of May. Nevertheless, my trip to Accra with the Bishop has been of enormous value. The most important outcomes of our visit are as follows:
1. The printers of the report, Graphic Packaging Ltd., welcomed Bishop Humper and myself to their offices last Tuesday. Charles Antwi, the Production Manager, gave us a full and frank briefing about the process and problems of the report production so far...
2. Mr. Antwi and other managers ... thus expressed their great relief that the Bishop and I had arrived. They maintained that they had the infrastructure and resources in place to print immediately, providing that the Bishop would be willing to give signed approval to the chapters before they were sent to the printing presses.
3. Bishop and I therefore undertook to proof and approve each of the chapters in the report for any remaining technical adjustments (fonts, headings, formatting of tables, etc), and then to sign a document that would give the printers authority to proceed without delay. In return, the printers would then commit to a definitive timeframe for delivery of the printed copies of the report to Freetown.
4. I set to work last Tuesday, based at a desk in the printers' offices, meticulously scrutinising each chapter on screen....
5. By Friday - having worked long days and nights in the face of considerable technical constraints - I was able to complete all of Volumes One and Two, including picture-captioning and page-numbering. The presses for those two volumes started rolling on Monday and ALL PRINTING OF 1,000 COPIES OF EACH VOLUME WILL BE COMPLETE BY THIS FRIDAY, 3 JUNE.
6. On Saturday I completed Volume Three A, again including picture-captioning and page-numbering....
7. The final technical adjustments are currently being made to chapters in Volume Three B...
8. Now for the final catch: the printers have had to sub-contract the binding of the report to a separate firm in Accra, since they do not have the equipment on site to do hard-back case binding on this scale. After questions were raised regarding timeframe, Bishop Humper accompanied Charles Antwi on a personal visit to this binding firm on Friday and was able to convince them that this job should take absolute priority in their schedules.
9. Accordingly, the printers and the binders have now agreed ... to the following timeframe for binding, packaging and completion of the printed reports:
- 1,000 printed copies of Volumes One and Two will be transferred from the printers to the binders on FRIDAY 3 JUNE and binding will commence immediately. All of these Volumes will be bound and completed within two weeks.
- 1, 000 printed copies of Volumes Three A and Three B will be transferred from the printers to the binders on FRIDAY 10 JUNE and binding will commence immediately. Again, all of these Volumes will be bound and completed within two weeks.
10. Accordingly, the full set of Volumes of the final TRC report will be printed, bound and packaged in Accra, Ghana at the latest by FRIDAY 24 JUNE 2005.
11. From this date, the consignment will be shipped to Freetown on the first available boat, which will be organised as of now by the printers. My understanding is that boats leave for Freetown from Accra twice month, taking approximately three days. Local informants in Accra have told me that the departure dates fall in the middle and at the end of each month. If this is accurate, then the shipment should leave Accra in the last week of June and arrive within days.
12. Accordingly, Bishop Humper and the printers have agreed upon and signed a document that COMMITS THE PRINTERS TO HAVING THE REPORT DELIVERED TO FREETOWN AT THE LATEST BY THE "FIRST WEEK OF JULY 2005". Bishop Humper has undertaken to begin obtaining customs clearance immediately, so that the shipment will pass through customs unhindered and be available for handover to the President and distribution to the public without delay....
13. We should certainly begin to plan for a variety of activities in mid- and late-July to coincide with the arrival of the TRC report. I will work with our NGO partners to set up a screening of the video in Parliament for that period if possible, and we will also seek to have the video screened on SLBS-TV to raise the report's public profile.
14. President Kabbah's promised two-week deadline for issuance of the White Paper will kick in from the first week of July....
15. At present I am due to return to Freetown next Thursday, 9 June. I want to ensure that all the printing has been done in Accra by that date so that no further delays are allowed to creep in. I will also try to meet the binders in person and, if possible, oversee some of their initial work.
I must sign off for now, but will continue to correspond whenever I can.
All the best wishes