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06.01.2006 General News

"Night soil" carriers sue Attorney General

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Accra, Jan 06, GNA - Nana Adjei Ampofo, an Accra-based lawyer, has sued the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and the Attorney General for violating the rights of some Ghanaians by engaging them to carry human excreta in pans on their heads.

In a writ filed at the Supreme Court on December 23, 2005, the plaintiff argued that the practice was an affront to the dignity of such persons in particular and Ghanaians as a whole. They are known as "night soil carriers".

"The act or practice mentioned above is cruel, inhuman and degrading and also detracts from the dignity and worth of such people in particular and Ghanaians as whole, as human beings," he said. Speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in an interview, Nana Adjei Ampofo said the practice or act was unconstitutional and also offended Article 15 of the Constitution.

He said Article 15 of the 1992 Constitution stated among others that: "The dignity of all persons shall be inviolable and no person shall, whether or not he is arrested restricted or detained, be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments or punishment and any other condition that detracts or is likely to detract from his dignity and worth as human being."

Nana Ampofo argued that people who were engaged to do that for a living agreed to do so because of poverty, something for which they could not be blamed and prayed that the practice or act should be abolished immediately.

He said not long ago, on his way to the office in the night, he met one of these carriers and the foul smell that followed him (the carrier) made him (Nana Adjei Ampofo) vomit and he could neither eat nor drink for a day.

Nana Ampofo said AMA appointed and engaged people to that kind of work and was the worst offender nationwide. Such carriers operate at Adabraka, Accra New Town, Kokomlemle and Nima, among other places. He said for more than 10 years he had personally drawn the attention of governments to the injustice in the practice and called for it to be abolished but his advice was ignored.

"I include the Attorney General in my suit because he is the Principal Legal Officer to the government and it is he who answers and defends legal suits against government," he said.