Delegation of the European Union to Ghana

European Union Special Representative for Human Rights, Mr Stavros Lambrinidis Visits Ghana, 4 – 6 July, 2017

Mr. Lambrinidis meets with Her Ladyship, The Chief Justice of Ghana, Sophia Akuffo and Supreme Court Judges in Accra

During his visit Mr Lambrinidis held meetings and broad consultations with Government officials, Civil Society Organisations and other officials of state agencies and independent institutions.

He met with Ghana's Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Justice Sophia Akuffo and other Supreme Court Justices and the also the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Shirley A. Botchwey at seperate meetings.

Earlier on, he met and interacted with Heads of European Union Member States in Ghana at the Delegation.

As a result of this visit, best practice from Ghana will be highlighted, and lessons learnt will be put together, to be disseminated in the region/continent, starting from the Africa-EU Summit scheduled for November 2017 in Abidjan.

 

Mr Lambrinidis addressing participants at a civil society forum in Accra
Mr Lambrinidis addressing participants at a civil society forum in Accra

Mr Stavros Lambrinidis, whiles in Ghana, took part in a Forum organised by the European Union Delegation in Ghana on the theme "Civil Society, a strategic partner for stability and governance in Ghana", on 5 July 2017 in Accra.

The purpose of the forum was to bring together Civil Society Organisations working on priority areas of the European Union Human Rights Country Strategy, so as to find out if there are lessons from the Ghana on the work of CSOs with governments which could be replicated elsewhere. The forum therefore emphasized the role that civil society organizations play in promoting stable democracies for peace and development.

Civil society organizations in Ghana which took part in the forum and shared their experiences including success stories and obstacles, the state of their interaction with Government institutions, whether their experiences can be replicated elsewhere and the way forward included: Basic Needs Ghana, Women in Law and Development, Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) Ghana, Ghana Integrity Initiative, the Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) and the Legal Resources Centre, Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) among others.

The Minister for National Security, Hon. Albert Kan Dapaah who represented the Government and Mr Charles Ayamdoo, the Director, Anti-Corruption of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), also attended the forum.

 

Mr. Lambrinidis met with Ghana's Deputy Attorney General Mr. Dame and other heads of sections at Ghana's Attorney Generals Department
Mr. Lambrinidis met with Ghana's Deputy Attorney General Mr. Dame and other heads of sections at Ghana's Attorney Generals Department

Mr Stavros Lambrinidis, paid a courtesy call on the Deputy Attorney General and Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, in his office in Accra on 5 July 2017, as part of his visit to Ghana. He met also several Heads and Directors of various sectors under the Ministry to learn from them what Ghana has achieved that could be termed success stories on the administration of justice in the country.

Mr. Lambrinidis told the Deputy Minister that his mission in Ghana was to identify good practices of interaction and collaborations between government and CSOs for better governance, an effort to identify the inspiration that Ghana can offer on how it works with CSOs and to know if Government holds consultations with CSOs fundamentally and whether there is openness. 

The Deputy Minister observed that the New Patriotic Party manifesto on which the party won the elections, hold the priorities of the government and that there have been and continue to be consultations with relevant CSO stakeholders in whatever policy decisions that are taken. He observed that in Ghana, the challenges faced are in the areas of economic and social rights such as child rights, health, education rights among others.  All these he noted are still challenging in the country.  

Access to justice, corruption which also poses serious challenges including issues of accountability, issues of basic human rights, the position of Ghana's constitution on the death penalty and structures needed to support reforms, were also discussed

Mr Lambrinidis, paid a courtesy call the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms Otiko Djaba
Mr Lambrinidis, paid a courtesy call the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms Otiko Djaba

Mr Stavros Lambrinidis, European Union Special Representative on Human Rights paid a courtesy call the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms Otiko Djaba, 6 July 2017 in her office in Accra. He also had interactions with some Directors at the Ministry particularly in the area of social protection, gender, domestic violence and human trafficking.

Mr. Lambrinidis told the Deputy Minister that his mission in Ghana was to identify good practices of interaction and collaborations between government and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) for better governance, an effort to identify the inspiration that Ghana can offer on how it works with CSOs, to know if Government holds consultations with CSOs fundamentally and whether there is openness.

Mr. Lambrinidis commended Ghana's efforts at increasing the participation of civil societies in decision making considering their important role in governance processes.

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection outlined the numerous intervention areas and indicated that, though there are existing policies and laws in place, it requires further sensitization for the citizens to report cases of abuse and violation of their rights. There are also challenges with the enforcement of sanctions.

The Ministry identified the role of CSOs and was of the view that, the support of the European Union through the EU funded Ghana Employment and Social Protection (GESP) Programme under the social protection component will further strengthen the social accountability mechanisms and the participation of civil Society in the country

Mr Lambrinidis in a group photo with a self-help group of care givers and persons with mental health challenges during a field visit in James Town on 5 July 2017.
Mr Lambrinidis in a group photo with a self-help group of care givers and persons with mental health challenges during a field visit in James Town on 5 July 2017.

Mr Stavros Lambrinidis, European Union Special Representative on Human Rights, as part of activities marking his visit to Ghana, paid a field visit to Pillar two communities in James Town on 5 July 2017, to interact with a self-help group comprising persons with mental health challenges.

The purpose of the visit was to learn from their experience of coping with their situation within the society and to motivate and encourage them in their efforts to realise their human potential.

The Group is being supported by Basic Needs Ghana, which has been funded by the European Union a couple of years ago under the thematic budget lines. They are currently receiving funded support by UKAid, which has enabled them to sustain their support to persons with mental health challenges.

The chairman of the Pillar 2 group at James Town, Abraham Kwame Nkrumah, said stigmatisation of people with mental illness was very high among the community and that most of them were shunned even by their family members and are marginalised economically and socially within the community. As a result, the group embarks on periodic sensitisation programmes at churches, markets, and surrounding communities with the aim to change their perceptions and to provide information about mental illness such as epilepsy, psychosis, schizophrenia and depression and how they can be managed.

The role of the group he noted was to sensitize people and create awareness about the fact that mental illnesses are not contagious. The overall aim of the sensitisation drive is also to encourage those whose relatives have mental health challenges to come out and seek medical care for them and not to hide them or abandon them to their fate.

The group consist of about 100 patients and care-givers who meet regularly to share information, provide peer support and counselling, assist members with financial support in their businesses and link them to health centres to enable them to assess medication for their challenge. Those without jobs are provided with skills and equipment to start their own small scale businesses especially the artisans and traders among them. The financial support to members is so critical as it enables to bear the cost of medication for their health conditions.

They have received training and support from organisation like Basic Needs and they also have support from the District Assemblies Common Fund allocated to disabilities which is inadequate to cater for all the patients. They shared their personal experiences and those of their relatives.

Mr Lambrinidis thanked the group for the important initiative made by members of the group to support each other but also educating communities about mental health and disabusing the mind of people about the negative prejudices associated with mental health. He commended them for giving human dignity back to the people who suffer mental illnesses and described them as "heroes" championing the cause of society, something that others will not want to do. "I want to raise this awareness about what you do here for the mentally ill patients and I want you to know that we support what you do and the world also support you in what you do". He concluded.

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