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Posts Tagged ‘Accra’

Action needed for the eradication slavery and child labour in Ghana

Posted by African Press International on December 5, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 3, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ The United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Gulnara Shahinian, urged the Government of Ghana to consolidate the important steps it has taken with strong and sustainable implementation strategies with measurable impact on groups at risk as well as victims of slavery.

“Further progress on eradicating the various forms of modern day slavery and exploitation in Ghana can only be achieved by addressing the root causes sustaining these practices, including poverty, regional disparities and the lack of access to livelihoods, education and health,” the expert said. A human rights-based approach is essential to do this.

“During my visit, I have seen that child labour, including in its worst forms continues to thrive in some communities. Children, some as young as 4 years of age, continue to be sent to work in fishing communities where they do dangerous work, are deprived of an education and are not paid,” she noted.

Ms. Shahinian hailed the steps taken by some of these fishing communities to ban child labour in their villages and to extend their child protection work to neighboring areas. “More community awareness raising and livelihoods are needed,” she explained. Children also work in hazardous and slavery conditions in the artisan mining sector, and in the cocoa sector – though the latter has seen significant improvements.

“I had the opportunity to speak to girls engaged in survival and commercial sex in Accra and Kayayes in the market who sleep in the open in appalling conditions with very young children and are regularly exposed to rape, exploitation and abuse, the the Special Rapporteur said. “These women and girls, as well as the children who accompany them are vulnerable to become victims of trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced and bonded labour and other forms of slavery. In addition to poverty, some are fleeing from early and forced marriages.”

Domestic servitude, often involving young children is another form of contemporary slavery which is believed to be rampant and must be studied and addressed. Equally there is a need to understand better the dynamics of forced labour and other forms of slavery along the person’s life cycle and pay greater attention to the situation of adults, on which there is too little effort and information.

The independent expert noted that many of these situations of exploitation increasingly occur in the context of the large waves of internal migration from poor rural areas to urban centres. “It is critical to invest in areas of origin and to invest heavily in the management of urban development, so that poor informal settlements or slums do not become sourcing centres for all forms of slave labour and trafficking for criminals,” Ms. Shahinian stressed.

The government of Ghana has taken the important step of recognizing the existence of slavery, of adopting legislative frameworks, and putting in place a number of institutional mechanisms and programs, such as in the area of child labor, and human trafficking. They have adopted the National Plan of Action (NPA) for the Elimination of the Worst forms of Child Labor, which aims to eradicate such practices by 2015, and ratified a number of international agreements, including key human right and ILO Conventions.

“I commend the authorities for these efforts and for establishing these frameworks,” the Special Rapporteur said. “I now urge the Government, in partnership with other stakeholders, to ensure that these frameworks become genuine tools for change.”

The expert warned that “budgetary allocations from the national budget to relevant ministries, departments and programs are inadequate, as is data collection, which is necessary to inform actions and understand the magnitude of the problem.”

In her view, greater and urgent efforts are necessary to ensure that social protection programs are rationalized, purposeful, and sustainable. These must be able to effectively identify and target the most vulnerable, be sufficiently resourced, and informed by a truly participatory and bottom-up approach.

Other challenges include coordination between relevant government structures and programs, the need for greater inclusion of civil society and affected communities at every stage, and genuine decentralisation which is more representational, able to reach all communities and supported with sufficient resources.

“The importance of education was stressed by everyone I encountered on this visit,” Ms. Shahinian noted. “Communities explained how critical education was to keep children out of child labour, while mothers working in terrible condition in the streets or in markets explained their objective was to earn money to send their children to school. Effective access to basic services such as primary education, adequate housing and health continue to be a challenge for many, despite favorable legislation.”

“Using a human rights-based approach can empower all stakeholders, including Government, and affected communities to address these rights as well as other socio-economic rights from the point of view of good governance and accountability,” she underscored.

During her nine-day mission, The Special Rapporteur visited various fishing communities in the lake Volta region, a rehabilitation centre, outdoor markets and other areas in Accra. She met with Government representatives, law enforcement agencies, victims, traditional community chiefs, teachers, members of community child protection committees, and international and civil society organisations.

Ms. Shahinian will present the findings of the visit to the Human Rights Council in September 2014.

 

SOURCE

United NationsOffice of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

 

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Ghana’s criminal justice need critical attention to be more humane

Posted by African Press International on November 16, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, today expressed deep concern about the situation of overcrowding in prisons in Ghana. “The overcrowding rate in some places that I visited is easily between 200 to 500%,” he warned at the end of his first official visit* to Ghana.

“Overcrowding gives rise to other human rights violations such as poor quality and quantity of food, poor hygiene, lack of adequate sleeping accommodation, insufficient air ventilation, a high risk of contamination of diseases, as well as very limited access to medical treatment, recreational activities or work opportunities,” Mr. Méndez said.

“These conditions constitute in themselves a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” stressed the independent expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor a report on the use torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the world.

The UN expert came across and documented a clear case of caning used as a disciplinary measure against several youth at the Senior Correctional Centre in Accra, the only facility dedicated to juveniles. “I have urged the authorities to conduct an immediate independent and impartial inquiry to establish accountability for this serious act of torture against children,” he said.

“The Government must ratify and implement the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture as a matter of national urgency. Among other things, this will allow a national system of regular prison monitoring by independent experts,” the rights expert stressed.

Mr. Méndez learned that family visits from children under 18 years old are not allowed in the Ghanaian prisons. “Denial of visits by children constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment not only of the inmates but of the children as well,” he cautioned.

“The Government should reconsider this issue, which is not resource dependent and could go a long way to help the mental state of inmates, in particular of female prisoners with small children,” the independent expert noted.

“In all places visited,” the Special Rapporteur said, “an extremely poor standard of equipment, absence of qualified doctors, an apparent lack of medicine and limited medical screening.” He also received numerous complaints regarding the quantity and quality of the food provided by the prison authorities.

The human rights expert pointed out that family visits are an issue of survival in detention facilities throughout Ghana. “Inmates told me they are dependent on their families to bring them medicines,” he said. “If transferred to a prison far from the family inmates may not receive additional food or medicine.”

Visiting the Psychiatric Hospitals in Accra and Ankaful, Mr. Méndez noted the lack of resources, the insufficient training and limited medication. “I am particularly worried about the application of electro-shock therapy as practiced at the Psychiatric Hospital in Accra,” said the independent expert. “It is administered without adequate anesthetics, not as a last resort, nor with free and informed consent.”

 

During his eight-day mission, the Special Rapporteur also visited two prayer camps north of Cape Coast. “I saw patients chained to the floor or walls of their cells or chained or tied to trees for prolonged periods of time,” said the expert. The practice of shackling is alleged to be due to the risk of escape or the aggressive behavior of some patients. “Many of the patients say they have been shackled for extensive periods of time, from a number of months to several years.”

The rights expert, who visited Ghana at the invitation of the Government, met with relevant authorities, the judiciary, national human rights institutions, civil society, international and regional organisations, victims and their families.

The Special Rapporteur will present a country report with his observations and recommendations to be presented at the next session of the Human Rights Council in March 2014.

(*) Check the long end-of-mission statement:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13990&LangID=E

 

SOURCE

United NationsOffice of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

 

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Ghana: 60 Books presented to School Children by an NGO

Posted by African Press International on November 1, 2012

Accra, The PAAJAF Foundation (Providing Adolescents & Adults with Jobs for Advancement in the Future) an NGO, has presented 60 books worth $40 USD to pupils at the Gbawe Methodist School in Accra.

The items included much-needed exercise books and pencils –  prizes for articles the students wrote about Human Rights, during their After School program (Nkabom – Children’s Network) which supports 36 pupils.

Headmistress Mrs. Elizabeth Larbi who presented the books to students, said the donation was to motivate students to keep writing.

Teacher Mr Alex Nyani of class JHS 3 at the Gbawe Methodist School expressed gratitude for the support the organization has given which helps pupils improve on their studies.

Mr. Philip Appiah, Founder and Director of PAAJAF said the NGO runs the Children’s Network at the school which creates a safe after-school environment for pupils to do their homework and interact with their peers that enriches their lives and community.

“It helps students to share ideas and give them a supportive environment for learning.” he added.

He said the organisation is sponsoring 6 underprivileged children in the community and taking responsibility for their fees, books, uniforms and school materials.  The NGO provides formal education, job training and health support for deprived children, youth and women in the Gbawe community.

He noted, from now until Christmas, the organization is looking for sponsors who are willing to support children by providing books, school materials and financial support in order to enable them to focus on their school work.

 

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