Accra, Sept. 16, GNA – Human Rights advocates and governance institutions on Wednesday intensified efforts to ensure speedy ratification of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture (OPCAT) and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by the end of the year.
The protocol adopted by the 57th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations reaffirmed that torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment were prohibited and constituted serious violations of human rights.
The OPCAT protocol mandates countries to strengthen the protection of persons deprived of their liberty against torture as well as takes effective measures to prevent acts of torture and inhuman treatment.
Speaking at a meeting with the OPCAT Ghana Working Committee in Accra, Mr Mark Thomson, Secretary-General of Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), said countries had the primary responsibility for implementing the Convention.
The OPCAT Ghana Working Committee is made up of Mr Francis Ameyibor of Ghana News Agency and Ghana Journalists Association, Mr Lawrence Amesu, Director of Amnesty International, Mr Isaac Annan of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice, the Ghana Bar Association, the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development and a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mr Thomson said Ghana's ratification, which paved the way for instituting measures to strengthen the protection of people deprived of their liberty and the full respect for their human rights, would boost the nation's democratic credentials.
He lauded the initiatives of the OPCAT Ghana Working Committee stressing that the effective implementation of OPCAT mechanism requires an active education of the citizenry and a combination of legislative, administrative, judicial and other measures.
Ms Audery Olivier, OPCAT Coordinator of the Association for the Prevention of Torture, said efforts to eradicate torture should first and foremost be concentrated on prevention and called for the Ghana's ratification to create a preventive system of regular visits to places of detention.
She said the protection of persons deprived of their liberty against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment can be strengthened by non-judicial means of a preventive nature, based on regular visits to places of detention.
Mr Ameyibor briefed the team on a series of activities embarked upon since 2006, including public education, engagement with government and traditional leaders, and visit to some prisons across the country.
He said the Ghanaian media associated itself with the objective of the protocol, which called for the establishment of a system of regular visits by independent international and national bodies to places where people were deprived of their liberty, in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Mr Ameyibor said the media in their quest to fight against inhuman or degrading treatment will adhere to the principles of confidentiality, impartiality, non-selectivity, universality and objectivity in their reportage.
Mr Amesu said civil society under the platform of OPCAT Ghana Working Committee would support government for the establishment of National Preventive Mechanism (NPM).
He said the NPM was necessary to strengthen the protection of persons deprived of their liberty against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
He said: “We will offer recommendations and observations to the State with a view to strengthening the capacity and the mandate of the NPM for the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Six African states including, Mali, Mauritius and Senegal have ratified the protocol and established the National Prevention Mechanisms (NPM), while Benin, Liberia, and Nigeria have ratified but are yet to establish the NPM.
Ghana, Burkina Faso, Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Togo are among states which have signed but are yet to ratify.
Ghana / Africa / Modernghana.com