UN expert welcomes Ghana’s steps to combat torture and other ill-treatment

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, on Tuesday welcomed steps taken by the Ghanaian government in its fight against torture and other ill-treatment in the country but said much remained to be done.

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Mendez, who is the independent expert tasked by the UN Human Rights Council with monitoring and reporting on the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment globally, urged the government to step up its efforts to implement the recommendations issued after his first mission in November 2013.

He was speaking at the end of a four-day follow-up visit to Ghana in which he assessed critical issues in the criminal justice system, including conditions of detention, as well as mental health care practices, in particular, treatment and living conditions of persons held in psychiatric hospitals and prayer camps.

“I am concerned that instances of torture and ill-treatment continue to occur with some frequency during the apprehension, arrest, and interrogation stages by police and intelligence services,” he said.

“I received troubling reports of forced confessions, despite the existence of legal guarantees intended to protect persons upon arrest and in police custody,” he added.

He noted no significant improvements with regard to the severe overcrowding in some detention centers, inadequate nutrition, a shortage of water, poor sanitation and health care, and a lack of medicines despite positive steps taken by the government to accelerate the management of cases.

Meanwhile, he said he was encouraged by the projects and measures being implemented by the government, particularly the Justice for All program, with its travelling court which has been able to partially clear up the backlog of remand cases in various regions.

Mendez called on Ghana to swiftly ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture to ensure regular monitoring of places of detention, which is essential to guaranteeing the rights of inmates.
He said initial steps had been taken to decentralize mental health care.

Mendez will present a follow-up report to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2016. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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