GHANA: Much remains to be done but UN expert welcomes steps taken to combat torture and other ill-treatment

Accra/Geneva, 7 October 2015 – ACCRA / GENEVA (7 October 2015) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Juan E. Méndez today urged the Government of Ghana to step up its effort to implement the recommendations issued after his first mission* to the country in November 2013. Mr. Méndez is the independent expert tasked by the UN Human Rights Council with monitoring and reporting on the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.

SR on Torture and illtreatment

UN Special Rapporteur Juan E. Méndez (right) addressing the media

“I welcome the steps taken by the Government of Ghana in its fight against torture and other ill-treatment in the country, but much remains to be done,” he said at the end of a four-day follow-up visit to Ghana, in which he assessed critical issues in the criminal justice system, including conditions of detention, as well as mental health-care practices, in particular the treatment and living conditions of persons held in psychiatric hospitals and prayer camps.

“I am concerned that instances of torture and ill-treatment continue to occur with some frequency during the apprehension, arrest, and interrogation stages by police and intelligence services,” he said. “I received troubling reports of forced confessions, despite the existence of legal guarantees intended to protect persons upon arrest and in police custody.”

Read further.

UN rights expert to follow up recommendations in Ghana’s key criminal justice and mental health areas

Geneva, September 29, 2015 – United Nations Special Rapporteur Juan E. Méndez is expected in Ghana from 4 to 7 October 2015, to discuss and assess the level of implementation of the recommendations issued following his visit to the country in November 2013.

During the visit, Mr. Juan E. Méndez will engage with key Government decision makers and with civil society leaders.

In a Media Advisory issued by the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, the visit is at the Mr. Juan E. Méndez will focus on the challenges he encountered in Ghana, such as critical issues in the criminal justice system, including conditions of detention, and mental health-care practices, including the treatment and living conditions of persons held in psychiatric hospitals and prayer camps.

Mr. Méndez will share his preliminary observations and recommendations at a press conference to be held in Accra on Wednesday, 7 October 2015, at 3 pm.

UN adopts new Global Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals

Accra, September 28, 2015 – The 193-Member United Nations General Assembly has adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with a set of 17 bold new Global Goals, which the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has hailed as a universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world.

Icons-FINALThe Goals aim to build on the work of the historic Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which in September 2000, rallied the world around a common 15-year agenda to tackle the indignity of poverty.

The adoption ceremony was presided over by Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who stressed the successes of the MDGSs and the need for the full implementation of the new Agenda. Read further.

UN Committed to Support Ghana’s Electoral Commission

New York, September 27, 2015 – The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon has expressed the UN’s commitment to supporting Ghana’s Electoral Commission in view of the 2016 elections. At a meeting with Ghana’s President, H.E. Mr. John Dramani Mahama over the weekend, the UN Secretary-General stressed the importance to ensure national implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and commended the President for his leadership and his Government’s efforts to improve the social and economic situation in the country.

UN Sec Gen meets with president Mahama

UN Sec Gen meets with president Mahama

Their discussion also touched on the situation in South Sudan and the need to support African countries in building public health resilience.

The Secretary-General expressed deep appreciation for Ghana’s essential support in the fight against the Ebola epidemic, the country’s continuing contribution to United Nations peacekeeping operations and the President’s active engagement towards the resolution of the crisis in Burkina Faso.

UN Secretary-General launches MDG Gap Task Force Report 2015

New York, September 18, 2015 – The Secretary-General has launched the MDG Gap Task Force Report 2015 at a press conference in New York. Entitled, “Taking Stock of the Global Partnership for Development,” the report focuses on recent achievements and gaps in the implementation of Millennium Development Goal “8,” which calls for a commitment to forge a global partnership for development. Reflecting on the experience of mobilizing finance and technology to support the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, the Report looks ahead toward the implementation of the new development agenda, “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,”  to be adopted at the Sustainable Development Summit from 2527 September in New York. 

Picture1In a press release issued in New York, the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “Achieving the SDGs will require an even stronger global partnership, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships to mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources”.

Read the executive summary of the report.

Press Briefing on opening of the 70th Session of UNGA Held in Accra

Accra, September 16, 2015 – The 70th Session of the UN general Assembly has opened in New York under the theme “The United Nations at 70: the road ahead for peace, security and human rights”. Ghana’s delegation to the General Assembly opening is led by the President, H.E John Dramani Mahama.

Ghana's Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon Hanna Serwaah Tetteh

Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon Hanna Serwaah Tetteh

In addition to statements by world leaders at the plenary meeting and interactive dialogues on key sustainable development issues during this session, a number of side events are expected to focus on specific initiatives.  President Mahama and the Ghanaian delegation are expected to hold a number of bilateral meetings and participate in some of these side events.

At a press briefing organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, in collaboration with the United Nations in

UN Resident Coordinator Ms Christine Evans-Klock

UN Resident Coordinator Ms Christine Evans-Klock

Ghana, the Minister, Hon Hanna Serwaah Tetteh (MP) announced that Ghana will take part in the High-level event on the operationalization of the Post-2015 development agenda for African Industrialization. This event will bring together African leaders and key development partners to discuss concrete partnerships for the effective operationalization of the post-2015 development agenda on the continent.  She said Ghana will also organize a conference at Columbia University “aimed at bringing together Ghanaian experts in the field of technology, science and industry to build synergies for the eventual transfer of their expertise to support sustainable, industrial and technological development in Ghana”. Another significant side event will be the signing of the US-ECOWAS Business Initiative, a Memorandum of Understanding establishing the Principles of the US Chamber of Commerce Partnership with ECOWAS. Continue reading

World Bank and partners launch the Grass is Greener initiative to reduce poverty and create wealth

Accra, September 4, 2015 – The Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), an independent agency for coordinating a comprehensive development agenda for the northern savannah ecological zone in Ghana, and the World Bank Ghana Office, in collaboration with the Government of Ghana have launched ‘The Grass is Greener’ initiative in a ceremony at the World Bank office in Accra.  The initiative aims at advancing poverty reduction and wealth creation in the northern part of the country. Also involved in this initiative are the Ministry of Culture and Creative Arts and the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre.

Batakari on display at the exhibition

Batakari on display at the exhibition

In his welcome remark, the Country Director of the World Bank, in charge of Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Henry Godfrey Rupiny Kerali, stressed on the need for Ghana to recognize and tap into its potential resources on the savanna belt, noting that “there is no reason why Northern Ghana and for that matter, Ghana as a whole should be poor”.  He therefore challenged SADA and the Government of Ghana to work together with the World Bank and other development partners to ensure that there is practical and pragmatic development for the north of Ghana.

The ceremony was also used to officially declare Batakari, a woven traditional attire of the people in the northern part of Ghana, a National Friday wear to be worn on the first Friday of every month.

A sketch on Batakari being performed

A sketch on Batakari being performed

“The potential to be unlocked by promoting the Batakari is clearly evident. I can assure you that it is not only comfortable wearing, but is actually quite valuable. Growth in this industry can stimulate not only the cotton industry, but also the whole development of northern Ghana.” Mr. Rupiny Kerali.

In a keynote address made on behalf of the Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr. Kofi Nuhu expressed government’s gratitude to the World Bank and SADA for embarking on the initiative. He indicated the Ministry’s commitment in advancing the development of the Batakari as a national agenda.

Continue reading

The Efua Dorkenoo Pan African Award for Reportage on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Building on their expertise and extensive networks on the ground, and following the Secretary-General’s announcement of October 2014, UNFPA and The Guardian have created the Efua Dorkenoo Pan African Award for Reportage on FGM. Efua Dorkenoo was a determined campaigner against FGM who fought for more than 30 years to protect the health and human rights of girls and women. Born and raised in Ghana, she moved to London at age 17 and dedicated her career as a health professional, expert on women’s health and activist to ending FGM.  

The Efua Dorkenoo Pan African Award for Reportage on FGM is intended to recognize the outstanding efforts of journalists reporting in print, radio and multimedia on FGM across Africa. The competition will be extended to other parts of the world in the coming years.

Continue reading

My Internship Experience by Delali Adiamah

“Working with UNIC Accra has been one invaluable experience for me. Talk about inspiration,

Delali interviewing a beneficiary of a health outreach in the Central region of Ghana by UNIC Accra and partners

Delali interviewing a beneficiary of a health outreach in the Central region of Ghana by UNIC Accra and partners

motivation, determination, education and adventure—I personally ensured I benefited from these…  I also enjoyed the opportunity to interact with other UN agency staff members and learned a great deal about the UN System and the various ways agencies cooperated with each other…To gain a prestigious opportunity for personal and professional development as one with United Nations Information Center is second to none. “