Mr Juan E. Méndez, UN Special Rapporteur on torture will visit Ghana from November 7 – November 14, to assess the situation and identify challenges regarding torture and other cruel or inhuman treatment in the country.
The Special Rapporteur’s visit is at the invitation of the Government, and he would be meeting with the judiciary, national human rights institutions, civil society, international and regional organisations, victims and their families.
A statement issued by Cynthia Prah, Communications Officer of the UN Information Centre, Accra and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday said the Special Rapporteur would also examine prisoners’ rights and conditions of detention, in particular for those spending years in prison either awaiting trial or serving lengthy sentences.
Mr Mendez said: “I will engage with decision-makers and key actors on various aspects relating to my mandate, from legislative amendments to the criminal law, including the definition of torture, to encouraging the establishment of a national mechanism for the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
“It is my first visit to sub-Saharan Africa and I am really looking forward to engaging in a meaningful dialogue with the Ghanaian authorities. Ghana, a regional leader, has already welcomed a number of visits by UN experts on a broad spectrum of human rights issues. This can have a positive ripple effect on neighbouring States.
“My ultimate task is to engage in a constructive manner with key decision makers and leaders in civil society to help the authorities uphold the rule of law, promote accountability regarding allegations of torture and ill-treatment, fulfil the right of reparations for victims, and to ensure that alleged perpetrators are held responsible in conformity with international law.
“I hope that my visit can assist the Government in coping with some of the challenges it faces regarding these issues and in finding solutions that ensure the promotion of human rights and dignity of all persons.”
The statement said the UN expert is making it a priority to visit psychiatric centres and prayer camps to examine the treatment and living conditions of those with mental disabilities.
It said he would also visit other places of detention within the criminal justice system such as police stations, interrogation centres, prisons, juvenile and women’s facilities.
It observed that he would also examine allegations of abuse of vulnerable persons, in particular women and children.
The statement noted that the Special Rapporteur intends to visit the Greater Accra, Central and Ashanti regions.
It said Mr Méndez would share his preliminary comments and recommendations at a news conference to be held on November 13, at the World Bank Office.
“The Special Rapporteur will present a final report to the Human Rights Council in March 2014.
“The mandate of the Special Rapporteur covers all countries, irrespective of whether a State has ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
“Ghana ratified the Convention in 2000 but has not yet ratified the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture,” it said.