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General News of Thursday, 14 November 2013

Source: XYZ

Treatment in Ghana’s prisons humanly degrading - UN

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Ghana must do more to protect prisoners and the mentally ill, according to the findings of the UN’s special envoy on torture.

Juan Mendez has been in the country for one week visiting prisons, prayer camps and psychiatric hospitals.

He said many of the practices he witnessed constitute cruel inhuman and degrading treatments.

Addressing the press in Accra Thursday, Mendez talked about the treatment of people at the Nyakumasai and Edumfa prayer camps.

He told reporters he saw and spoke to young people who were chained at these centers.

“We saw children shackled. Children who evidently did not have mental disorders, they had Neurological disorders. Some autistic others epileptic and the shackling does not help them at all at least not from a medical perspective”.

The special envoy asked the government to regulate these faith healing centers all of which are privately owned. He has also recommended that the mental health act be rapidly put in place.

“I had a conversation with them and some were reasonable and coherent. That is why I have a serious concern as to whether there is a need for shackling under the human rights law and the Ghanaian law.”

But Mendez admits the psychiatric hospitals he visited were underfunded and under equipped although the staff is self-motivated.

On the subject of Prisons, the special rapporteur on torture said they were one hundred and forty percent over capacity adding that medical conditions are pitiful and sentences served for crimes are too long.

Juan Mendez said he will release his final report on Ghana in February.

The report will include recommendations for the government.

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