The US State Department’s 2010 Report on Human Rights in Ghana has indicted the country for corruption, which it says permeates majority of state agencies, regardless of the regulations in place to punish officials.

However, the Minister of Information, Mr John Tia Akologu, has taken exception to some aspects of the report, saying corruption is not anybody’s creation but a canker being dealt with by the government on all fronts.

The report, released in April this year and published on the website of the US State Department, cited the police and judicial officials for corruption, indicating that “the police had set up barriers to extort money from motorists, whereas judicial officials accepted bribes to expedite or postpone cases or otherwise lose records.”

According to the report, it was the expectation of the US government that the numerous cases of embezzlement of public funds by ministries, departments, agencies and district assemblies uncovered during the 2010 Parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearings would be prosecuted even as the government made strides to reduce corruption.

It also identified excessive use of force by the police which resulted in deaths and injuries as well as prolonged pre-trial detention that threatened the condition of criminal suspects, as the worst form of human rights violation.

Expatiating on the human rights situation, the report indicated that although there were no reports that the government or its agents committed politically motivated killings, excessive use of force by the security agencies had resulted in the death of several armed criminal suspects and other persons during the year under review.

It cited an instance when an inmate of the Koforidua Prison died on his way to hospital on April 28, 2010, with a local newspaper alleging that the deceased prisoner had died from injuries inflicted during torture, as against explanations from prison officials that he had died of illness.

It expressed regret that no post-mortem examination was conducted as the police service denied requests by hospital staff to conduct same.

It also identified violence against women and children, including Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), social discrimination against women, gays and lesbians, as well as persons with disabilities, coupled with the arbitrary arrest of journalists, as forms of human rights violation.

The report also cited the setting ablaze of an alleged witch in Tema, for which six people were standing trial, with frequent adjournments of the case, and said more action could have been expedited to enable the case to move beyond the district magistrate’s court to a higher one.

Reacting to the report, Mr Akologo expressed surprise at some of its contents and described them as baseless.

According to him, there had been no political situation in the country in which the government had unleashed the police on people, although there had been a few security concerns over the police and armed suspects engaging each other in gun battles which resulted in the death of some suspects.

Mr Akologo described the corruption charges as a canker which was not the making of the government and indicated the determination of the Mills-administration to wage a relentless war on corruption.

Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana

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