Amnesty International (AI) Ghana says despite the significant strides in the fight against human rights violations, the situation in Ghana is worrying.
“Ghana prides itself as a beacon of democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, the human rights situation today is concerning,” it said, asserting that lip service was being paid to issues of human rights in the country.
Mr Francis Nyantakyi, Board Chairman, Amnesty International, speaking at the 50th Anniversary launch of the human rights advocacy organisation and the launch of the AI 2022/2023 Report, said Ghana’s human rights records for the past two years had not been impressive as there was little improvement.
For instance, he said, the country had not developed eviction guidelines and that ministries, departments and agencies of state continued with unlawful evictions “with impunity.”
He said journalists had consistently been under attack by the police and other security agencies, adding that the security agencies, especially the police and the military, continued to torture citizens.
Mr Nyantakyi said prison conditions remained deplorable with no clear roadmap to decongest the prisons and to give inmates decent conditions.
The Amnesty International Board Chairman asserted that women continued to be accused of witchcraft and were subjected to inhuman treatment, adding that “witches continue to exist although they have been outlawed.”
He cited the painful death of Akua Dente of Kafaba which “is a constant reminder of how the state failed to secure rights for some vulnerable women.
Mr Nyantakyi said the Government’s inaction in addressing those pertinent human rights issues and abuses regressed the desire to consolidate Ghana’s status as a democratic and rights respecting nation.
As a move to contribute to improving Ghana’s Human Rights records, Amnesty International Ghana urged the Office of the President and the Attorney General to sponsor bills including the Armed Forces amendment bill 2022, Criminal Offences amendment bill 2022, Witchcraft accusation bill with the necessary state resources to get them passed without further delay.
Mr Nyantakyi said, the failure of the Government of Ghana to facilitate the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill should be a concern to all as the contribution of women in all spheres of the nation’s life needed to be recognized and efforts made to position them to effectively participate in decision making.
“Amnesty International Ghana is hereby calling on the President of Ghana to honour his promise to the good people of Ghana on the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill,” he said.
On the use of excessive force by the Police, the 2022/2023 Amnesty International Report revealed that, on February 3, a group of plain-clothes security officers assaulted a radio presenter, reportedly damaging his eardrum, when he refused to surrender his phone.
The presenter had filmed the officers escorting handcuffed suspects in Takoradi.
On the death penalty, the report said, in April the Armed Forces (Amendment) Bill 2022 and the Criminal Offences (Amendment) Bill were introduced to parliament to replace the death penalty with life imprisonment for military and ordinary crimes.
It said, as at the end of the year, the bills were still under consideration in parliament and the amendments would not abolish the death penalty for high treason, which was provided for by the Constitution.
Mr Francis Xavier Sosu, Member of Parliament for Madina, said, “human rights in Ghana is in danger because many things happening in the country suggests that we are losing the human right fight – human battle.”
He called on human rights activists, crusaders, and policy makers not to wait for a major disaster before the issues of fundamental human rights are addressed.
According to the human rights lawyer, “We don’t need a holocaust before we know that the right to life matters; we don’t need any major form of evictions affecting many people and others lives before we rise up.”
“All little things that happen that question our respect for the dignity of man, our respect for rule of law, our respect for freedom of expression,” he said were the reasons why some actions needed to be taken.
Amnesty International was established in Ghana in 1973.
Over the past 50 years Amnesty International Ghana has been at the forefront of human rights work, promoting freedoms and rights.
It has supported the development of many local and international human rights instruments through its work and the support of partners.
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