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CSOs urged to intensify awareness on human right laws

By
Patience Gbeze, GNA

Accra, Aug. 1, GNA – Civil Society
Organisations (CSOs) have been urged to intensify their awareness creation on
laws bordering on human rights to bridge the gap between the laws and their
implementation.

Ms Margo Waterval a United Nations Human
Rights Committee member, made the call at a follow-up meeting with Ghanaian
CSOs to the UN Human Rights Committee’s recommendations in Ghana.

She said CSOs needed to play a key role in
sensitising the people on new laws enacted because only being aware of negative
effects of things that could bring change in society.

She said the UN Human Rights Committee was
expecting to receive report from the Government and the CSOs on its three main
recommendations next month.

The Committee’s recommendations are on
non-discrimination and harmful traditional practices, persons with disabilities
and psychiatric treatment, and conditions of detention and violence among
inmates.

It was organised by the Human Right Advocacy
Centre and the Centre for Civil and Political Rights for the CSOs to present
their Action Plan on the follow-up on the recommendations.

Ms Waterval said the Committee considered the
initial reports of Ghana at its 3274th and 3275th  meetings in June 2016 and had adopted the
present concluding observation a month later at its 3293rd meeting.

She said the Committee was concerned about the
persistence of certain harmful practices, notwithstanding their prohibition by
law.

Such harmful practices include female genital
mutilation, ritual servitude (trokosi), forced early marriage and confinement
in witch camps and polygamy.

The Committee therefore urged the State party
to strengthen its awareness raising and education programmes in this regard,
especially in communities where the practices remained widespread.

State party should further enhance its efforts
to prevent and eradicate harmful traditional practices; proactively investigate
cases of traditional harmful practices and ensure that victims have access to
effective remedies and adequate protection, rehabilitation and reintegration
mechanisms.

The Committee also recommended that the party
should ensure the implementation of the Mental Health Act, including through
the adoption of legislative instruments for its implementation and the
recruitment of qualified mental health professionals.

It should also ensure registration, regulation
and control of prayer camps, with a view to preventing ill-treatment, including
inhumane practices involving shackling and mandatory fasting, ensure that persons
with disabilities or their legal representatives are able to exercise the right
to effective remedy against violations of their rights.                                                                        
Ms Andrea Meraz, Programme Manager of Centre for Civil and Political
Rights, said the Committee also recommended that State party should take
measures to improve the conditions and treatment of persons held in custody.

It should also take steps to address the
problem of prison overcrowding, including introducing a genuine policy on the
use of non-custodial penalties in accordance with the UN Standard Minimum Rules
for the Treatment of Prisoners.

She said the State party should also take the
necessary steps to separate prisoners by age, sex and custodial status.

The State party should also ensure that
inmates are not given any disciplinary authority over other inmates, among
others.

Ms Meraz said they were in the country to
ascertain what the State of Ghana did to implement the recommendations, the
challenges and the role of CSOs to ensure that people know about the laws
through awareness creation.

Participants at the meeting called for media
collaboration in their education efforts.

GNA

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