The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has cautioned security agencies against using unjustified force or torture in enforcing the law amid the partial lockdown of Accra, Kasoa, Tema and Kumasi.
CHRAJ in a statement signed by its Commissioner, Joseph Whittal admitted that the emergency situation has led to the curtailing of certain fundamental rights and freedoms, however, the commission insists that “human dignity cannot be curtailed or traded off” even in the event of an “emergency situation like what persists in Ghana.”
“As much as the commission lauds efforts by both the Government and COVID-19 STF in protecting public safety during the lockdown, it is equally imperative that efforts at enforcing the law to safeguard public safety during the public health and public safety should not be oblivious of the limitation imposed by the constitution and International Human Rights Instruments.”
The Commission reiterated that it will be neglection of “duty if we (commission) fail to call on the government and all who have the duty to enforce the lockdown to do so in a manner that would protect the dignity of members of the public, including those found to have breached the Executive order.”
It further advised the relevant security services that “the exercise of the powers conferred on the COVID-19 STF should be consistent with both Ghana’s Constitution as well as International and Regional Human Rights Law and normative frameworks as articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the Nelson Mandela Rule, the Luanda Guidelines and Robben Island Guidelines.”
Moreso, it advised the public to adhere to the president’s directive on the partial lockdown of Accra, Kumasi, Tema and Kasoa, which are epicentres of COVID-19, to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Ghana’s COVID-19 case count hits 204
Ghana’s COVID-19 cases currently stand at 204 with five deaths. Three people have however recovered from the diseases.
In an attempt to curtail the further spread of the disease, the president announced certain measures including the closure of the country’s borders as well as a two-week lockdown of the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area and parts of the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area.
Four days into the lockdown, there have been concerns over assault of civilians breaching the lockdown by security agencies.
The Commission however urged Ghanaians in locked-down areas to desist from breaching the directive.
“The Commission also takes this opportunity to strongly advise members of the public in the lockdown areas to respect the lawful directives relating to the lockdown in order not to occassion any misunderstanding with the lawfully constituted COVID-19 STF taskforce as it carries out its legal duties,” the commission concluded.