CHARJ: Stakeholders discuss Amendment Bill on preventing torture

CHARJ: Stakeholders discuss Amendment Bill on preventing torture
Mr. Joseph Whittal

By Justine Mensah

A stakeholder engagement to amend Act 485, which establishes the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, has taken place in Accra.

The Amendment is to enable the Commission to effectively discharge its mandate of preventing the torture of detainees or persons who may have been deprived of their liberties. Under the Optical Protocol of the United Nations Convention, CHRAJ, has been designated to implement the National Preventive Mechanism which upholds the rights of detainees.

National Preventive Mechanisms are independent visiting bodies established by countries to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments or punishment of individuals. It is an exclusive human rights treaty propelled by the Optical Protocol to the United Nations Convention Against Torture. It combines monitoring at both international and national levels to ensure that people are not deprived of individual liberties. In Ghana, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice is the designated body to implement the convention. The Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Whittal, explained the commission’s plans to ensure that the NPMs are implemented effectively.

The National Preventive Mechanisms require unrestricted access and regular visits to all places of detention and any suspected places where persons are or may be deprived of their liberty. The NPMs would also make recommendations to relevant state institutions such as the ministries, prisons and the police service. The Commission is expected to create a division which will be responsible for upholding the right of detainees through education. A Deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ, Ms. Mercy Larbi, elaborated on the functions of the division.

An amendment Bill is in the offing to enable CHRAJ to effectively discharge its mandate of preventing torture. Stakeholders are required to submit inputs prior to its passage by Parliament.

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