The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has cautioned Ghanaians to desist from all forms of inhumane treatment against people with psychosocial disabilities.
“I am reminding all prayer camp operators, herbalists, spiritualists, and the entire Ghanaian population that chaining people with psychosocial disabilities amount to torture, which is an offense and they must stop such inhumane treatment.” Madam Mercy Larbi, a Deputy Commissioner, CHRAJ, said.
She made the call at an event organised by the Ghana Federation of Disability (GFD) Organisations to commemorate the 2022 International Day for Persons with Disabilities, said the act amounted to torture, which is an offense and must stop.
Psychosocial disability arises when someone with a mental health condition interacts with a social environment that presents barriers to their equality with others.
The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), which falls on December 3, promotes understanding of disability issues and mobilises support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of persons with disabilities.
The theme for this year is, “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fueling an accessible and equitable world” but the local theme: is “Not all Disabilities are Visible.”
Madam Larbi explained that in accordance with the Ghana Mental Health Act, people with psychosocial disabilities shall not be subjected to torture and forced labour and therefore such people deserve to be treated with dignity.
She appealed to families with relatives who have recovered from such conditions to accept them with love and dignity and stop stigmatising them.
She said Persons living WIth Disability (PWD) face social stigma and an entrenched culture of discrimination which manifests in inequalities in various aspects of their lives.
The Deputy Commissioner said in spite of the constitutional and legislative guarantees for the rights of PWDs (Persons With Disabilities), it was clear that Ghana’s disability laws were inadequate to protect the rights of PWDs to prevent stigma and discrimination.
“It is about time Ghana expedited action to review her disability laws in line with the UN Convention to PWDs to realise their inherent and inalienable rights as human beings,” she stated.
She called on Parliament to speed up its processes to pass the reenacted Disability Bill into law when it is brought before them.
Ms Mawunyo Yakor-Dagbah, the National President of GFD, speaking on invisible disability, appealed for increased awareness of mental health issues as people continue to stigmatise persons with such conditions daily.
She said recent statistics from the Ghana Mental Health Authority and the World Health Organisation estimated that 3.1 million Ghanaians, representing 10 per cent of the estimated 31 million total population, experience a form of mental health challenge or another, with about 16,000 of the cases reported being severe.
Ms Yakor-Dagbah said it was thus important for people to understand invisible disabilities to contribute to the realisation of the rights of persons with disability.
She encouraged stakeholders, private entities, and designers to provide and where necessary make reasonable accommodations by ensuring that persons with disability adequately met with technological aids and innovation.
Mr Humphrey Koffie, Executive Secretary, Mental Health Society of Ghana, urged Ghanaians to avoid depression in its strongest sense as it was the leading cause of mental disorders.