Regulate Prayer Camps – Human Rights Advocates urges government

AccraCivil Society Organisations have called for the registration, regulation and control of prayer camps to stem human rights abuses.

The CSO’s, in Civil and Human Rights, also called for effective and independent monitoring and reporting system for mental health and social care institutions so that abuses at these camps were investigated and culprits prosecuted.

Inmates of these prayer camps suffer ill-treatment such as shackling and mandatory fasting.

The CSO’s made the call during a meeting to discuss Ghana’s progress report on condition of detention centres, harmful practices, persons with disabilities and psychiatric treatments.

The meeting is also a follow up to the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s recommendation to Ghana.

The CSO’s include Amnesty International, BasicNeeds Ghana, Human Rights Advocacy Centre, POS Foundation and representatives from the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General, Minister of Gender and Social Protection and the Ghana Prisons Service.

The meeting was convened by Human Rights Advocacy Centre and Centre for Civil and Political Rights both non-governmental organisations.

Leading the discussions on Persons with disability and Psychiatric practices, Mr Anaba Sunday Atua, Project Officer of BasicNeeds Ghana, noted there were about 840 prayers camps across the country but a few of them were regulated.

According to him although his organisation had taken up the challenge to educate operators of these prayer camps on the need for them to respect the rights of persons with mental disability and also refer them to the various psychiatric hospitals for medical examinations.

Currently, it was difficult to place the prayer camp operators under the Ministry of Health and called for effective guidelines for their operations in the country.

Mr Atua further observed that Ghana’s Commitment to the implementation of the UN Human Rights recommendation in the area of health and mental care still leaved much to be desired.

Mr Atua, therefore, suggested the passage of the Legislative Instrument (LI) of the Mental Health Act 846 with a levy to resource the Mental Health Fund.

He appealed to the CSO’s to push government to pass the Mental Health LI by the mid-year 2019.

Mr Atua observed that the Mental Health Authority has developed a draft mental health policy which would address challenges of the various psychiatric hospitals.

Currently Mental health Units have been established in 216 district hospital and health centres to provide decentralised mental health treatment service, he stressed.

Mr Solomon Akumun, Programmes Officer for POS Foundation noted that although Ghana was guided by the UN Standards Minimum rules for the treatment of Prisoners, the prison conditions in the country prisons is yet to depict so.

According to Mr Akumun, the country’s prisons were still heavily overcrowded and congested adding that the total authorised capacity of all the prisons in Ghana is 9,875; however, as at the end of September 2018, the total prison population was 15,063.

This indicates a general overcrowding rate of 52.5 per cent at the end of September this year.

He said the sleeping conditions of inmates remained appalling due to overcrowding and that also constituted emotional and psychological torture.

Mr Cecil Adadevoh, a Principal State Attorney, tasked the CSO’s to also take a look at health needs of the inmates.

According to Mr Adadevoh chapter five of the 1992 Constitution enjoins all Ghanaians to enjoy civil and political rights.

Source: Ghana News Agency