The Mental Health Society of Ghana has urged government to ensure the full implementation of the provisions of the Mental Health Act, as it joins the UN to observe the International Day in support of Victims of Torture.
The United Nations (UN) has set aside June 26 every year to remember victims of torture across the world, and to stand in solidarity with all affected people, their families and communities.
The occasion also draws attention of government and the public to the grave violation of human rights, including torture of people with mental disorders.
Mr Humphrey Kofie, Executive Secretary of Mental Health Society of Ghana, in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency on Thursday ahead of the commemoration, urged government to take practical steps to fully implement provisions in the Mental Health Act.
“We join the voices of torture in a resounding cry against such abhorrent and inhumane practices meted out to them in Prayer camps, traditional healer, faith based organisations and spiritual healer homes,” he said.
“It is an indisputable fact that Africans by their traditions and belief systems, will visit such unorthodox facilities anytime they suspect a family member is suffering any mental disorder,” he said.
He, however, said it was regrettable that with the coming into force of the Mental Health Act, very little impact has been made on the lives of victims of torture, due to the slow implementation process, leading to non-compliance with the provisions by perpetrators.
Mr Kofie, who is also the Country Facilitator of Mental Health Leadership and Advocacy Programme, blamed the seemingly low impact of the law on lack of general education about the relevant provisions of the law which deal with torture.
He urged the government to initiate immediate steps to raise awareness on the tenets of the Act, to reduce the incidence of torture and human right abuses in prayer camps, traditional and spiritual healing homes, among others.
“The Mental Health Society of Ghana on this occasion urges government to take appropriate measures to prevent all forms of torture, exploitation, violence and abuse against people with mental disorders across the country,” he said.
He implored Ghanaians to stand in solidarity with the affected people, as well as their families and communities.
He added, “we also urge special protection for the courageous human rights defenders across the world who put themselves at grave risk in order to shine a light on the practice of torture.
“And we pay tribute to the many, psychologists, doctors, lawyers, psychiatrists and social workers, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice and the Legal Aid Scheme of Ghana who provide hope and help to enable victims to heal and integrate back into society.”