Amnesty Ghana urges government to protect prisoners, citizens’ rights

Amnesty International Ghana has called on government to implement all international human rights obligations in Ghana’s national legislation to protect its citizenry.

It should also enforce the Chapter Five of the 1992 Constitution, which bothers on protecting citizen’s human rights, by taking all necessary steps to ensure that women, children, groups, all prisoners, and the vulnerable were not taken advantage of.

Mr Frank Kwaku Doyi, Director of Amnesty International Ghana made the appeal during the group’s quarterly briefing with a section of the media.

He said, for instance, prisoners awaiting trial should be able to effectively exercise their right to promptly challenge the lawfulness of their detention before a court, apply for release pending trial and receive a prompt and fair trial.

Government, he said should respect and fully implement the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and the Body of Principles for the Protection of all persons under any form of detention or imprisonment.

It should also take measures to improve the conditions and treatment of persons held in custody, address the problem of prison overcrowding, including by introducing a genuine policy on the use of non-custodial penalties, in accordance with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, among others.

Mr Doyi further urged the Government to ensure that inmates were not given any disciplinary responsibility over other inmates, adding that Ghana should expedite its efforts to establish a national mechanism for the prevention of torture, as well as an effective mechanism for receiving and processing complaints lodged by detainees.

He condemned any form of violence against journalists and called on government to live up to its responsibility to guarantee the safety and protection of journalists and all media outlets in the country.

“We call on the government to protect journalists who are doing their work peacefully from harassment, attacks and arbitrary arrests, prosecute those responsible and compensate the victims,” he appealed.

“We further call on the government to ensure that Ghana complies with the African Commission Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa which requires states to “take effective legal and other measures to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of attacks against journalists and other media practitioners, and ensure that victims have access to effective remedies.”

Mr Doyi pointed out that the State was obliged to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of everyone within its jurisdiction, without discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, social origin, political opinion or other prohibited grounds including the right to life, the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the right to a fair trial and the right to freedom of expression.

He also called on the Government to ensure that Ghana complied with its reporting obligations under international and regional human rights treaties, by presenting all overdue periodic reports to the relevant treaty monitoring bodies.

“Ghanaian authorities must investigate harassment, intimidation, unlawful surveillance, physical attacks and criminalization of human rights defenders, particularly those facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, such as LGBTI defenders,” he stated.

Ms Selasi Ewurabena Ahema Tsegah, Executive Director, Human Rights Advocacy Centre, a non-profit organisation, said Ghana had been confronted with a number of human rights violations and other issues that should be a source of concern to all.

She appealed to the government to resource institutions meant to protect victims of human rights abuses to make their work efficient, as well as abolish cultural norms that abuse such rights.

Source: GNA

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