Ghana: People Held in Chains Despite Ban


The practice of shackling people with psychosocial disabilities or mental health conditions has continued in Ghana despite the government’s 2017 ban on it.

Development Diaries reports that the government has not adequately resourced the enforcement mechanisms to monitor compliance by faith-based centres where people are being held in chains and assist those currently being unlawfully detained as reported by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

It is understood that under Ghana’s 2012 Mental Health Act, people with psychosocial disabilities ‘shall not be subjected to torture, cruelty, forced labour and any other inhuman treatment’, including shackling.

The law also requires the establishment of visiting committees in all 16 regions to conduct inspections and ensure that the rights of people with mental health conditions are protected, and of a mental health tribunal to offer recourse.

However, an investigation by HRW showed that ten people in two spiritual healing centres – known as ‘prayer camps’ – were held in chains against their will, which amounts to indefinite detention and other ill-treatment.

There were also numerous severe violations of human rights in both camps, such as denials of access to sufficient food, filthy surroundings and poor hygiene, denials of liberty and freedom of movement, and denials of health treatment.

Apparently, Ghana has not lived up to its own pledge to defend the rights of individuals with psychosocial disabilities detained in shackles in conventional and religious health facilities.

Data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that out of Ghana’s 2.3 million people living with mental health conditions, only two percent receive psychiatric treatment and support from health facilities.

Development Diaries calls on the Ghanaian government to strictly enforce the ban on shackling people with psychosocial disabilities.

We also call on the government to respect the provisions of the 2012 Mental Health Act and protect the rights of persons with mental disabilities.

Photo source: HRW


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