Amnesty International Ghana has frowned against the excessive use of force and firearms by law enforcement officers in the country.
According to Amnesty, riot control procedures are not being followed by the members of the security services who have frequently resorted to the use of lethal force.
The Director of Amnesty International Ghana Mr. Frank Kwaku Doyi, who expressed this sentiment at a press briefing in Accra, noted that in most cases, no specific information on prosecutions of perpetrators and compensation to victims has been provided.
“Amnesty Ghana observes that the mechanism to investigate police abuses is not fully independent, as complaints against police officers are investigated by fellow officers.
Amnesty Ghana has also observed that the mechanism to investigate police abuses is not fully independent, as complaints against police officers are investigated by fellow officers,” he hinted.
The government needs to take measures to ensure that the law and practice are in accordance with the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
Assault and harassment on journalists
Touching on assault and harassment on journalists, Mr. Frank Kwaku Doyi condemned any form of violence against journalists and called on the government to live up to its responsibility to guarantee the safety and protection of journalists and all media outlets in the country.
We are deeply concerned about journalists being threatened, harassed, subjected to physical attacks and/or arrested without any justifiable cause.
These abuses by national security operatives and other authorities send a worrying message to journalists and anyone who tries to question the government.
“The 1992 Constitution of Ghana recognizes media freedom and independence, and this creates an obligation for the authorities to protect journalists.
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,” he explained.
Discrimination based on sexual orientation
According to Mr. Frank Kwaku Doyi, stated clearly that Amnesty International Ghana does not promote or advocate for LGBTQ+.
This he said, perpetrators must be brought to justice, whether they are state or non-state actors, and victims must be provided with effective remedies.
Stressing that, 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.
More so, authorities in Ghana must ensure that all human rights defenders, including those who work for organisations protecting LGBTI people, can operate in a safe and enabling environment.
“Authorities must ensure that hate speech and threats against LGBTI people and those defending their fundamental human rights guaranteed by Article 21 of the 1992 Constitution are thoroughly investigated and those responsible are brought to justice,” he added.
He also advised the Media not to contribute to hate speech, discrimination, misinformation, and hostility towards human rights defenders, including those who defend the rights of LGBTI people.
The death penalty
Amnesty Ghana noted that death sentences are still imposed and that a high number of persons remain on death row for a long period.
The death penalty violates human rights, including the right to life, the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment.
According to Amnesty Ghana Abolishing the death penalty will reinforce Ghana’s commitment to protecting human rights; since Ghana’s death penalty retentionist policy is out of step with the rest of the world
Amnesty International Ghana, therefore, called on the government to, commit to steps being taken to amend the laws of Ghana to abolish the death penalty. Also, commute all death sentences to life imprisonment.
Overcrowding in prisons and other places of detention
Mr. Frank Kwaku Doyi hinted that Ghanaian prisons are under-resourced. This he said, there are poor medical and sanitary facilities and not enough beds or bedding.
According to him, in order to address the problem associated with prison overcrowding, there is the need to introduce a genuine policy on the use of non-custodial penalties, in accordance with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules)
This he said, the government must take all necessary steps to ensure that all prisoners awaiting trial are 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.
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.
On her part, the Executive Director of Human Rights Advocacy Centre Ms. Selasi Ewurabena Ahema Tsegah, noted that Ghana has been confronted with a quite number of Human rights violations.
According to her, the statistics available at the Accra Regional Office of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU), as of August 2020, 31.9% of Ghanaian women have faced at least one form of domestic violence.
Ms. Selasi Ewurabena also cited numerous incidents of military and police assaulting citizens. For instance, the alleged assault of students of the Kumasi Girls Senior High School, the shooting at Ejura, the inhumane treatment of youth in Wa by military personnel.
This she said, officers who abuse civilians should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Adding that police service should strive to limit engagement with the military in public order situations.
Source: Isaac Kofi Dzokpo/newsghana.com.gh