Category Archives: Ghana

Ghana: Much remains to be done but UN Special Rapporteur welcomes steps taken to combat torture and other ill-treatment

October 7, 2015 – Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez concluded his follow-up visit to Ghana, which was undertaken with the support of the Anti-Torture initiative. During the visit, the Special Rapporteur and his team met with high-level government officials, visited places of deprivation of liberty, including prisons, a psychiatric hospital, and a prayer camp, and hosted in a roundtable with civil society in Accra. “I welcome the steps taken by the Government of Ghana in its fight against torture and other ill-treatment in the country, but much remains to be done,” the Special Rapporteur stated at the end of the visit, urging the government to set-up its effort to implement the recommendations issued after his first mission to the country in November 2013. The Special Rapporteur expressed particular concern about reports of incidence of torture and ill-treatment that occur during arrest and interrogation by police, severe overcrowding and substandard conditions of detention, and the treatment of persons with mental disabilities, including shackling, in prayer camps. The Special Rapporteur will present his findings and recommendations in a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council March 2016. To read the end-of-visit press statement in full, please visit the OHCHR website

Special Rapporteur on Torture to Conduct Follow-Up Visit to Ghana

29 September 2015- Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez will conduct a follow-up visit to Ghana from 4 to 7 October to assess the implementation of the recommendations he issued after his initial visit in November 2013. The Special Rapporteur “will focus on the challenges [he] encountered in Ghana, such as critical issues in the criminal justice system, including conditions of detention and mental health-care practices, including the treatment and living conditions of persons held in psychiatric hospitals and prayer camps.” During his visit, the Special Rapporteur will engage with key Government authorities and civil society leaders and he “look[s] forward to assisting the authorities to further implement [his] recommendations, uphold the rule of law, promote accountability, and fulfill the right of victims to reparations.” The Special Rapporteur is hopeful that his second visit will assist the Ghanaian Government to address the remaining challenges it faces in the fight against torture.

To read the full press release, please click here

Special Rapporteur Presents Reports, Participates in Side-Events During Twenty-Fifth Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva

March 10 – 12, 2013 – During the week of Monday, March 10, 2014, Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Méndez, addressed the Twenty-Fifth Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), held a press conference, and participated in several side-events in Geneva, alongside UN colleges, State delegates, and partners from civil society organizations.  During the HRC Session, the Special Rapporteur presented the report on his recent country visit to the Republic of Ghana, as well as his latest thematic report on the exclusionary rule and the use of torture-tainted evidence and information by executive actors and agencies within States. For more information about the Special Rapporteur’s activities at the UNHRC including video-links to his presentation and other media, please visit our page dedicated to the Human Rights Council Session.

Ghana: New Report Describes Mistreatment of Persons with Disabilities

March 10, 2014 – Human Rights Watch and news outlets highlighted the Special Rapporteur’s  report on Ghana, which he presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 10, 2014. In the report, the Special Rapporteur, said that people with mental disabilities in Ghana are frequently detained in inhumane conditions in psychiatric hospitals and spiritual healing centers known as “prayer camps.” He documented cases of shackling and denial of food and water to people with mental disabilities, including children as young as 7, revealing the urgent need for Ghanaian government oversight of prayer camps and mental hospitals where people with mental disabilities are suffering horrific abuse, according to Human Rights Watch. As noted in this article from Business week, the Special Rapporteur highlighted in his report that Ghana’s treatment of persons with psychosocial disabilities, in particular the practices of shackling the mentally ill to trees, depriving them of food or using electroshock therapy without anesthesia, may constitute torture. You can read more about the Special Rapporteur’s Ghana report from South Africa’s IQ4 News.

Ghana – Country Visit Report (Mendez 2014)

UN Official Finds Evidence of Torture in Ghana Jails

November 20, 2013 – The Special Rapporteur discussed his findings from his recent visit to Ghana in an Radio France International interview. In the interview, the Special Rapporteur described prison conditions in the country as appalling and subhuman, and as being characterized by severe overcrowding. The Special Rapporteur additionally described witnessing some examples of physical violence, such as whipping, on the bodies of detainees. The Special Rapporteur noted that he is persuaded that torture in the form of physical violence during interrogation is, however, relatively rare. He further discussed visiting a juvenile detention center in Accra, where a number of children aged 13 to 16 described having been subjected to corporal punishment the day before his visit, and displayed physical signs of lashing. During his visit, the Special Rapporteur also came across the case of a detainee who was subjected to mob violence. The radio interview in full is available here.

Ghana’s Criminal Justice and Mental Health Practices Need Critical Attention to be More Humane

November 14, 2013 – The Special Rapporteur issued preliminary observations in Accra at the end of his visit to Ghana. The Special Rapporteur expressed deep concern about the situation of overcrowding and conditions in prisons, which amount to human rights violations and constitute forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.  Conditions in police stations, holding cells, and prayer centers across several regions were also found to be poor. The Special Rapporteur also found a lack of adequate medical care in all places of detention visited, including extremely poor standard of equipment, absence of qualified doctors, an apparent lack of medicine and limited medical screenings. The independent expert also urged the Government to ratify and implement the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) as a matter of national urgency. While the Special Rapporteur did not receive complaints of mistreatment by prison staff, he noted that inter-prisoner violence remains a concern in some places of detention. The Special Rapporteur also expressed concern about the situation in psychiatric Hospitals in Accra and Ankaful, noting the lack of resources, the insufficient training and limited medication, and the fact that only 12 psychiatrists operate in Ghana, covering a population of over 25 million people. The Special Rapporteur will present his findings in a full report to the Human Rights Council in March 2014. To read the press release, please visit the website of the UN OHCHR. A news article on the Special Rapporteur’s visit is available from the UN Office in Geneva


Ghanian prisoners’ food rations limited to 90 US cents a day

November 16, 2013 – During his first country visit to Ghana, the Special Rapporteur on Torture (SRT) learned that Ghanian prison officials spend an average of 90 U.S. cents to feed an inmate per day, severely limited the detainee’s access to proper nutrition. The SRT discussed these and other findings in a press conference at the World Bank in Accra on November 14th, where he stressed the urgent need for Ghana to revise its prison, detention and psychiatric treatment centers to meet the standards set forth in the Convention Against Torture (CAT) and the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT).  Aside from having inadequate access to nutrition, the SRT found that Ghana’s prisoners had limited access to medical healthcare and treatment and were subject to unnecessarily harsh visitation restrictions and disciplinary measures. Specifically, the SRT found that prisoners were not allowed to be visited by family members who were younger than eighteen and were  subject to caning by prison guards as a disciplinary measure. The UN Expert reiterated that both of these actions constituted cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and needed to be stopped immediately. To read more press coverage regarding the SRT’s visit, click here.

Aljazeera: Ghana jails cruel and inhuman

November 15, 2013 – Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, criticized the living conditions in Ghanaian prisons, which he qualified as cruel, inhuman, and degrading due to severe overcrowding, inadequate food, unsanitary conditions, and lack of proper medical services. The Special Rapporteur also criticized the quality of mental health-care in Ghana, both in hospitals and so-called “prayer camps,” noticing the use of electroconvulsive treatment under questionable conditions and the constant shortage of medicine. Read the full article here. 

SRT discusses preliminary findings of Ghana’s prisons

November 14, 2013 – On 14 November, the  SRT discussed the preliminary findings of his country visit to Ghana at a press conference in Accra.  The SRT shed light on multiple shortcomings in the country’s detention and prison centers and discussed potential measures to rectify the situation. The SRT expressed his concern about the overcrowding of Ghana’s prisons, estimating the overcrowding rate to be as high as 200-500% in some locations. The SRT emphasized the gravity of the situation by stating that such conditions amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under the Convention against Torture (CAT). The SRT was also concerned to learn that Ghanian prisoners were not permitted visits by family members younger than eighteen and found that such restrictions constituted cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by affecting the mental state of both the prisoners and the young family members. The SRT further urged Ghana’s authorities to cease the practice of caning as a disciplinary measure after having witnessed several youths being caned at the Senior Correctional Center in Accra. The UN Expert reiterated that such actions amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and should never be used on children. In order to combat these various issues, the SRT urged the Ghanian government to adopt and implement the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) to create a panel of independent experts that regularly monitors the nation’s prison systems. The SRT will present his final recommendations at the next session of the Human Rights Council  in March 2014.  Read more about the SRT’s preliminary findings here.