Ghana has signed on to a myriad of international treaties on human rights, including the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD) and the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
However, holistic enforcement of laws, such as the Children’s Act (Act 560), Domestic Violence Act (Act 732), Persons with Disability Act (Act 715), Human Trafficking Act (Act 694) and the Mental Health Act (Act 846) have not yielded much results.
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As the world marks the 2017 International Human Rights Day (IHRD), which fell on Sunday, December 10, CDD-Ghana charges government, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Judiciary, National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the media to undertake a holistic assessment of the implementation of human right laws in the country, especially those that affect the vulnerable and marginalized.
The theme for this year’s celebration – “People to know and push for their rights no matter where they are in the World,” is a clarion call to government to ensure citizens are well educated and empowered to fight for their civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights.
It also presents a distinctive opportunity for all relevant parties to ensure the strict enforcement and adherence to human right laws.
There are glaring indications that Ghana is not making significant strides when it comes to the protection of rights of vulnerable and marginalized.
A 2015 BBC documentary rated Ghana as the worst place to live as a disabled person. The rights of mental health patients in the country are despondently abused.
Instead of placing them in proper psychiatric health facilities, they are sent to prayer camps, where they are sometimes kept in chains and maltreated. Equally worrying is the spate of defilement/rape cases and the absence of proper structures to counsel and provide rehabilitation of victims.
CDD-Ghana urges government, through the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, CHRAJ, to take bold steps to address these issues.
We call on government to make available the list of shelter for battered women and children; evaluate the implementation of the Disability Act, particularly on accessibility; and provide the logistical needs of all mental hospitals in the country.
Ghana has a fine opportunity to work assiduously to chart a new path to strengthen the protection of the rights of all citizens.