The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has called on security agencies to rid their operations of the use of torture.
Mr Joseph Whittal, the Commissioner of CHRAJ, in a release copied to the Ghana News Agency, said where state officials are found to have employed torture in the performance of their work; they should be dealt with swiftly under the laws of Ghana.
The statement said CHRAJ was calling on all state actors, particularly the security agencies, to respect Ghana’s obligations under international laws and to take steps to rid their operations of the use of torture.
It said the Commission has followed recent media reports of alleged torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (hereinafter generally referred to as “torture”) meted out to two journalists of an online media platform in Ghana, ModernGhana, for their alleged involvement in cybercrimes.
The statement said these media reports come on the heels of the incident that took place during the Ayawaso West Wuogon Parliamentary by-election, which led to the setting-up of the Commission of Inquiry chaired by Mr Emile Francis Short.
It said although the CHRAJ did not independently authenticate the allegations and it has also seen a press release issued by the National Security Council Secretariat on 1st July, this year, refuting the allegations, the Commission hereby issues the Advisory in line with its constitutional and statutory mandate.
“CHRAJ is also calling on all persons who might at any given point time suffered any form of torture by any person or group of persons whether acting in a private capacity or official capacity to report to the appropriate authorities, including CHRAJ, for investigations to be conducted and the matter dealt with appropriately,” the statement said.
It said CHRAJ reminds all state and non-state actors to respect Ghana’s obligation under Article 12(1) (2), 15(1) (2) (3), 35(4) and 40© (d) of the 1992 constitution, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 16 and its relevant targets, as well as those stipulated under the international law, particularly the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. (ACHPR), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Convention against Torture (CAT), and Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) by avoiding acts and omissions that might impugn Ghana’s strides towards human rights compliance.
“Essentially, CHRAJ calls on the Government in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney-General to commit to Article 40 (c) (d) of the Constitution as well as its relevant provisions relating to torture by implementing, in particular, paragraph 22 of the HRC’s Concluding Observations on the Initial Reports of Ghana of the ICCPR (ICCPR/C/GHA/CO/1, 9th August 2016),” the statement said.
It said the ICCPR/C/GHA/CO/1, 9th August 2016 concluded that “The State Party (Ghana) should adopt criminal legislation that defines and criminalises torture in accordance with international standards and provides for penalties commensurate with the gravity of the act.”
The statement said in other words, CHRAJ calls on the Office of the Attorney-General, as chief legal adviser to the Government, as well as the Parliament and consistent with international best practice, to take the necessary steps towards enactment of a separate law on torture, so as to cure the gap in the existing criminal jurisprudence.