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Ghana can do more to prevent torture - UN

BY: Kweku Zurek
Ghana can do more to prevent torture - UN

The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture has encouraged Ghana to establish a National Preventive Mechanism against Torture (NPM) in order to ensure that persons deprived of liberty are not at risk of ill-treatment.

“Ghana ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture in 2016 and should have established its NPM by the end of 2017. It has not yet done so, and we hope our visit will encourage it to do so through an open, transparent and inclusive process”, Sir Malcolm Evans, who led the four-member delegation said in a statement.

“It is clear that there is much to be done to ensure that those deprived of liberty are not at risk of ill-treatment and that the conditions in which they are held are appropriate. The problem of overcrowding is well known and widely acknowledged: our visit has been able to highlight some of the practical consequences of this to those who are responsible” said the head of the delegation.

"We hope that swift and effective action will now be taken and we look forward to continuing what has been a constructive set of discussions so far", he added.

The delegation visited police stations, prisons, a juvenile correctional facility, psychiatric hospitals, and medical services provided by prayer camps, conducting confidential interviews with both detainees and staff members.

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It also held meetings with Members of Parliament, Government officials, the Supreme Court, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, professional associations and civil society representatives.

The Subcommittee composed of Sir Malcolm Evans, Head of Delegation (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), Marija Definis-Gojanovic (Croatia), Nika Kvaratskelia (Georgia), and Margret Osterfeld (Germany) visited the country between May 26-June 1, 2019.

The aims of the visit were to advise on the establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism against Torture (NPM) and, by visiting places of detention, examine the treatment of people deprived of their liberty and the safeguards in place for their protection against torture and ill-treatment.

The Subcommittee will submit a report to the Government of Ghana, which will contain observations and recommendations arising from the visit.

"This report will remain confidential unless the Government of Ghana decides to make it public, and the subcommittee encourages it to do so," the statement stressed.

Background

The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture monitors States parties’ adherence to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture which to date has been ratified by 89 countries.

The Subcommittee is made up of 25 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties.

The Subcommittee has a mandate to undertake visits to States parties, during the course of which it may visit any place where persons may be deprived of their liberty.