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Human Rights

Human Rights (18)

An Accra High Court (Criminal Division) has ordered the release of the Achimota student who shot and killed his girlfriend last year. Presiding judge, Justice Kofi Dorgu, the trial of the accused exceeded the six months period as stipulated in the Juvenile Act. The court has therefore ordered that the judgment by the Juvenile court be quashed and the accused discharged. According to the judge, there was a miscarriage of justice because the juvenile court delivered a verdict without waiting for a social enquiry report. Section 24—Social Enquiry Report. (1) Where a juvenile is charged with an offence, the juvenile court shall order a social enquiry report to be submitted to the court which shall be taken into account by the court in the making of an order. (2) The social enquiry report shall be prepared by a probation officer who shall visit the home of the juvenile. (3) The social enquiry report shall include particulars on the background of the juvenile, the present circumstances of the juvenile, the conditions under which the offence was committed and recommendations for sentence. (4) The social enquiry report may include a recommendation that the matter before the juvenile court be referred to a child panel established under the Children's Act, 1998 (Act 560) but the referral shall only be in respect of a minor offence. (5) The court shall ensure that the contents of the report are made known to the juvenile and a copy shall be made available to the juvenile or the legal representative of the juvenile. (6) The court may request an oral report from the probation officer in addition to the social enquiry report. (7) If the court does not follow the recommendations given in the report, written reasons shall be given as to why the recommendations have not been complied with. Background The 17-year-old convict was found guilty for manslaughter by the Accra Juvenile court for shooting and killing a female colleague. He was sixteen years [minor] at the time of the incident on January 4, 2017 and so the case was heard in camera. He is said to have gone for his father’s gun which was under a bed with the intent of shooting in the air, but ended up killing his friend, Lily Donkor, who was also a third year student of the same school. The facts as narrated in court were that on January 4 last year at about 2pm the deceased Lily who lived at Cantonments visited the convict at Community eight in Tema. While there, prosecution said the convict went to his father’s room and picked up his father’s single barrel gun and shot the victim in the abdomen. The convict told the police that he intended shooting into the air however the gravity of the gun changed course and hit the deceased. According to the prosecution, a neighbor heard the gun shot and went to the scene only to see the victim lying in a pool of blood. The victim was taken to the Port Clinic in Tema. However due to the condition of the victim, she was transferred to the 37 Military Hospital in Accra where she died on admission.
A rights group says Ghanaians who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) are effectively "second-class citizens" because they are criminalised and not protected from violence and discrimination. In its report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) quotes an unnamed 40-year-old lesbian from Cape Coast, who says: The government should recognise that we are human beings, with dignity, not treat us as outcasts in our own society. We want to be free, so we can stand tall in public and not deal with obstacles and harassment daily." Same-sex activity is illegal in Ghana under a colonial-era law. HRW says that although Ghana has not stiffened penalties against consensual same-sex in recent years, “homophobic statements by local and national government officials, traditional elders, and senior religious leaders foment discrimination and in some cases, incite violence.” The rights group is campaigning for this law to be repealed.   Credit: BBC
Speaker of Parliament Professor Mike Ocquaye has stated categorically that Ghana will not decriminalize homosexuality as requested by Amnesty International.         The Speaker made the comments when Human Rights group, Amnesty International paid a courtesy call on him at Parliament on Tuesday.   Is amnesty International going to tell us that many countries are doing that so you too have to accept homosexuality, to accept bestiality because [it] is also becoming a human right in some countries. “The right for a human being to sleep with an animal is also becoming a human right and we are tired with some of these things and we must be frank about it,” Professor Ocquaye said.         Amnesty International has raised concerns over the human rights violation of the Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual and Intersex People (LGBT) in the country.     Consensual same-sex relations between men remained a criminal offence. Local organizations reported that LGBTI people continued to face police harassment as well as discrimination, violence and instances of blackmail in the wider community, Amnesty International has lamented.   But the Speaker says Ghana will not decriminalize homosexual as requested by the Amnesty International.   The Speaker in February this year, called for an amendment of the law to completely ban homosexuality in Ghana.   Speaking during a courtesy call by the Royal House Chapel led by its founder Rev. Sam Korankye Ankrah, Prof. Oquaye said existing legislations are not clear of the illegality of the practice. “It is unfortunate that people have become so liberal that they will want to liberalise Christianity…even priests are approving of homosexuality and allowing a man and a man [to] marry, a woman and a woman [to] marry and these are manifest abominations.   “I trust that with your kind of insistence, the Parliament of Ghana…will find its way clear in strengthening the laws to ban homosexuality as they exist. As for this, may God forbid that it becomes a Ghanaian culture,” Prof. Oquaye said.
The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) 43rd Ordinary Session begins from October 31 to November 18, 2016 at Arusha, Tanzania.   The eleven member judges will examine about 70 applications and four requests for advisory opinion, Justice Sylvain Oré, AfCHPR President, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview.   He said judges will also hold the Seventh Extra-Ordinary Session from November 28 to December 2.   The court meets four times a year on Ordinary Sessions.   Justice Sylvain Oré said with the rapid growth of International Human Rights in recent years there has been a growing international trend of setting up regional and sub-regional human rights mechanisms such as the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter -American Court of Human Rights.   “On the African continent, this trend has resulted into the creation of human rights bodies not only at the sub-regional levels but also at the continental level,” he said.   The African Court President said the creation of the Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Court) and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights was part of the international trend.   The AfCHPR is made up of eleven judges, nationals of Member States of the African Union elected in their individual capacity.   The President and Vice President are elected for a term of two years and are eligible to be re-elected for another final term of two years.   The AfCHPR has adopted a progressive communication module which seeks to publicise its mandate to protect human rights on the Continent.   It forms part of the African Court’s Communication Strategy to ensure that Information and Communication policy forms part of its comprehensive strategy and must be placed at the heart of its work and not as an add-on to its activities.   The Court is also building on its media network for improved coverage and public awareness of its activities; and established a specific pool of journalists tagged as “Champions of AfCHPR’’.   Source: GNA
Nana Oye Lithur, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection has official lodged a complaint against the found and General Overseer of the International God’s Way Church, Bishop Daniel Obinim, at the Accra Regional office of the Domestic Violence and Victims’ Support Unit (DOVVSU) for openly flogging two youngsters in his church for fornication. Bishop Daniel Obinim has defended his unlawful act. He had explained that, he did so to serve as a deterrent. Nana Oye Lithur in a Facebook post  wrote, “We have been informed that the police have commenced investigations into the matter and a complaint has also been filed against him [Obinim] at the Tema Regional Police. We will keep you posted on further developments.'' The victims, are said to be his adopted children. The male is a student while the lady is a beautician apprentice.  
The attack against sexual 'minorities' has been widely condemned by the One Hear Foundation (OHF). According to the foundation, the Orlando attack calls for concern especially among human rights advocates.  In a statement issued by the foundation, they said, ''One Heart Foundation Ghana (OHF) edge all human rights advocates around the globe to speak against such abuses and discrimination against the LGBTIQ community or else LGBTIQ will or may continue to suffer such attacks, however we continue to stay optimistic that one day together we shall overcome bigotry, religious differences and atrocities that come with human rights.'' The statement added, ''Not quite long, the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando resulting in the killing of 49 innocent people and wounded 53 more in an attack was shock to other countries who share the same concern with the LGBTIQ around the world.  ''With my heartfelt grievances, I call upon the law enforcement, stakeholders, security agencies, opinion and political leaders to address the abuses the LGBTIQ communities face.'' Omar Mateen, of Port St. Lucie, Florida, shot his way into Pulse nightclub at 2 a.m. Sunday with an assault rifle, Orlando Police announced Sunday. Mateen reportedly took hostage several patrons who were hiding in a bathroom. A SWAT unit entered the club at 6 a.m. and killed Mateen in what was described by law enforcement as a sustained gun battle.  The deadliest mass shooting in modern American history killed 49 people after a gunman attacked a gay dance club in Orlando, Florida.     Below is the full statement: HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AGAINST LGBTIQ COMMUNITIES (ORLANDO ATTACK)… A concern to all human right activists and advocates A human rights abuse against LGBTIQ persons around the globe has increased and that makes the livelihood of an individual’s difficult to live as humans with regards to freedom and rights.  LGBTIQ community should enjoy as ordinary citizens in the world without fear of intimidation and abuses. Not quite long, the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando resulting in the killing of 49 innocent people and wounded 53 more in an attack was shock to other countries who share the same concern with the LGBTIQ around the world. One Heart Foundation Ghana (OHF) edge all human rights advocates around the globe to speak against such abuses and discrimination against the LGBTIQ community or else LGBTIQ will or may continue to suffer such attacks, however we continue to stay optimistic that one day together we shall overcome bigotry, religious differences and atrocities that come with human rights.  With my heartfelt grievances, I call upon the law enforcement, stakeholders, security agencies, opinion and political leaders to address the abuses the LGBTIQ communities face. My deepest condolence to all LGBT fraternity, especially the families of all those who lost their brothers, sisters and friends. ‘’ it takes no compromise to give people their rights… it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to remove repression.’’ Harvey Milk    
The last surviving member of Nkrumah's cabinet, Franklin Jantuah has been sued by some six members of the Ghana Disability Forum for “scandalous” statements he is said to have made against Convention People’s Party’s flagbearer Ivor Kobina Greenstreet. Franklin Jantuah in an interview to the media after the candidate was declared as presidential candidate of the CPP said,  Ivor Greenstreet won't be able to lead the party to victory because he is crippled. “I don’t think a cripple can lead a political party. If you have a CPP with a leader who is a crippled…I wonder how he is going to rule,” he stated. The comments the plaintiffs namely Alex Tetteh, Francis Adjetey Sowah, Jonathan Agbesi, Kwame Afaglo, Johnson Mahama and Clement Hammond says is contrary to the Ghana Disability Act 715. In their statement of writ filed at the Human Rights Court, the forum accused Mr Jantuah of breaching not only the 1992 Constitution but also the Disability Act of 2006. A statement issued by the forum has also cautioned the general public to treat persons with disability with respect, inclusion and offer them equal opportunities for a better world. The statement added, ''we wish to advice the general public to desist from making mockery, stereotyping and discriminating against persons with disability, as any of the above mentioned acts is contrary to the Ghana Disability Act 715.'' The plaintiffs are seeking the following reliefs: a) A declaration that the statement breaches the non-discrimination provisions in Article 5 (2) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability b) A declaration that the statement made by the defendant is discriminatory, abusive or degrading of Persons with Disability in Ghana contrary to Article 29(4) of the 1992 Constitution c) A declaration that the statement by the defendant is contrary to Article 17 (2) of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana on non-discrimination on grounds of social status d) A declaration that the statement made by the defendant amounts to calling Disabled Persons with derogatory name contrary to section 37 of the Persons with disability Act 2006 Act 715 e) An order for the defendant to retract the statement and render an unqualified apology to Mr. Ivor Greenstreet as well as the Disability Community in Ghana F) Legal fees and cost    
Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik has won part of his human rights case against the Norwegian state. The court upheld his claim that some of his treatment amounted to "inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment". The right "represents a fundamental value in a democratic society" and also applied to "terrorists and killers," judge Helen Andenaes Sekulic said. Breivik, a right-wing extremist, killed dozens of centre-left young political activists in an attack in July 2011. Earlier that day, he set off a car bomb in the capital in Oslo, killing eight people. Breivik had challenged the government over his solitary confinement as well as treatment including what he said was the excessive use of handcuffs, repeated strip searches and being woken up during the night. In its judgement, the Oslo district court noted that Breivik had been kept in solitary confinement for almost five years. However, the judge ruled his right to a private and family life had not been violated The court also ordered the Norwegian state to pay Breivik's legal costs of 330,000 kroner ($40,000; £28,000). Source: BBC
Private legal practitioner, lawyer Maurice Ampaw has alleged that, any lawyer who defend the rights of gays themselves are gays. According to him, the constitution of Ghana frowns on homosexuality hence anyone who defends the rights of gays could be one. Speaking in an interview with Nyankonton Mu Nsem, the lawyer said he do not know any lawyer in person to be one, but he was of the conviction that only gays can defend gays. His comments follows the dismissal of three alleged gay students of the Opoku Ware Senior High School who according to some students were caught in the act of having sex. He disputed claims by some Ghanaians that the rights of the students, was violated by school authorities. Lawyer Ampaw opined that the students should have been handed over to the police since their action was criminal and punishable by law. He explained the action by the school should be commended since the negative behaviour of the alleged gays can influence other students.  
Private legal practitioner, lawyer Foh Amoaning has dared President Mahama to boldly say no to gay rights irrespective of the international threats or effects. Speaking in an interview with Kwame Tutu, host of frontline on Rainbow Radio, the lawyer chided President Mahama for failing to show leadership by saying no to gay rights when he interacted with the press two days ago. The president answering a question posed to him by a journalist on his stance on gay rights, President Mahama said ‘’ ‘’…We have a constitution and it has an elaborate provision in the directive principles of state policy and human rights. I swore an oath to respect that constitution. And so the rights of Ghanaians that are written into that constitution are what I am obliged to respect and uphold… ‘’…Go into our constitution and read through the rights and if you define rights there as gay rights then I will uphold them.’’ But lawyer Amoaning explained the answer by the president was deceptive, unclear and lacks leadership. President Mahama failed to show leadership unlike the late Prof. Mills who forcefully said no to gay rights at a time when the International community pressured many African countries to uphold the rights for same-sex relationships, the lawyer explained. According to him, President Mahama is a very good leader who should defend the constitution of Ghana which frowns on same-sex. Ghana will not continue to be pressured by this so-called advocacy for gay rights because we will not bulge, we the Christian community, Islamic and all other religious bodies resist this call. We don’t care who is involved, he stressed. Lawyer Foh Amoaning who is also the spokesperson for National Coalition for Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values noted they will pressure all political parties to declare their stance on this matter as we prepare towards the 2016 elections. President Mahama should be categorical and say no, lawyer Amoaning emphasized. Meanwhile he has warned advisors of President Mahama to desist from  ill advising him on the matter or risk being exposed to the public.    
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