Author Archives: Cynthia Prah

Violent extremism in prisons: Behind bars, but not locked up

By Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime

Violent extremism today presents a chilling challenge to the world’s prison correction communities.

Anis Amri, shot dead before Christmas by Italian police after killing 12 people in the Berlin terrorist attack, was allegedly radicalised in prison. His story follows a shocking trajectory that enables murderous terrorism due to the incitement and recruitment of vulnerable prisoners.

Security Council meeting
The situation in Afghanistan
Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security (S/2015/684)
Letter dated 15 September 2015 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/2015/713)
General Assembly 69th session: High-level Forum on a Culture of Peace
Opening Statements by the Acting President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General, followed by panel discussions

Cases such as Amri’s show that, today, for the small minority, prisons have become the first step towards committing horrific acts of mayhem and destruction. How can we get this minority back on the rehabilitation path and defeat the violent extremists. While no quick remedy exists, there are approaches that can make prisoners less susceptible.

Extremist recruiters are adept at spotting fragile inmates open to joining extremist causes and who can be convinced to commit terrorist acts upon release. Using the tedium of prison life, they exploit hatreds and frustrations and bend inmates towards a shared ideological commitment to using violence.

Prisons may not help by exerting their own coercive pressures encouraging prisoners to join groups due to violence, threatening behaviour, overcrowding and poor management.

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Launch of the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2017

Accra, January 11, 2017 – The 2017 World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) report will be launched by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) on 17 January at 11:00 am in New York (4pm in Accra). Regional analyses will also be launched in the following days in key regional hubs.  

According to the report, facing major headwinds and heightened uncertainty, the world economy remains mired in a prolonged cycle of subdued global growth. In addition to an analysis of the present situation, the report looks at measures that can lift global growth and support sustainable development, including a more targeted policy mix that is based on sound policy analysis and more effective policy coordination at the domestic, regional and global level.

You may follow the global launch at http://webtv.un.org.

Who is António Guterres

Accra, January 2, 2016 -António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, took office on 1st January 2017.

Portrait of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

Portrait of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

Having witnessed the suffering of the most vulnerable people on earth, in refugee camps and in war zones, the Secretary-General is determined to make human dignity the core of his work, and to serve as a peace broker, a bridge-builder and a promoter of reform and innovation.

Prior to his election as Secretary-General, Mr. Guterres served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015,  heading one of the world’s foremost humanitarian organizations during some of the most serious displacement crises in decades. The conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and the crises in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Yemen, led to a huge rise in UNHCR’s activities as the number of people displaced by conflict and persecution rose from 38 million in 2005 to over 60 million in 2015.

Before joining UNHCR, Mr. Guterres spent more than 20 years in government and public service. He served as prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, during which time he was heavily involved in the international effort to resolve the crisis in East Timor.

As president of the European Council in early 2000, he led the adoption of the Lisbon Agenda for growth and jobs, and co-chaired the first European Union-Africa summit. He was a member of the Portuguese Council of State from 1991 to 2002.

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Ghana’s Miss Tourism joins students to mark World Toilet Day

Tema, 28 November 2016 – Students of Community 7 No. 1 Junior Secondary School in Tema, a suburb of Accra have highlighted, through art, the importance of adequate toilet facilities in homes as they observe World Toilet Day. The event which was organized by UNIC Accra, in

Some of the students participating in the exercise

Some of the students participating in the exercise

partnership with Abibimman Foundation, a local NGO, involved 42 students in a drawing competition to test their understanding of World Toilet Day following a briefing on the theme “Toilets and Jobs”. The students then took the opportunity to demonstrate through art work, their perception of the

Prince proudly showing his work

Prince proudly showing his work

Akos with her work

Akos with her work

relevance of the Day. At the end of the exercise, three students were adjudged winners of the competition. They are Prince Da-Roacha, Xoese Akos Akotey and Baba Abdallah Yakubu.

Prince’s work showed a man defecating in the only source of drinking water in the community to portray the effect of our actions on our water bodies. Akos offered two environments, one with a toilet and

Baba's work

Baba’s work

another without a toilet.  The juxtaposition is between clean and dirty environments. For 12-year-old Baba, the overall winner of the competition, it is much more comfortable and relaxing for anyone using a water closet toilet facility as compared with defecating in the open.  He showed this by drawing a man reading while sitting on the water closet and another man swamped by flies while openly defecating.

Miss Tourism, Geraldine [left] decorating the winners.  She is supported by her assistant, Akorfa

Miss Tourism, Geraldine [left] decorating the winners. She is supported by her assistant, Akorfa

At the end of it all, the students received some items such as pins, pencils, stickers, folders, erasers and posters donated by the International Labour Organisation.

Also present at the event was Miss Tourism, Geraldine Sappor who told us about her mission to promote Ghana’s tourism and create environmental awareness among young people.

Ghana: Candidates agreement on peaceful elections

Accra, 26 November 2016 – The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Commonwealth and the United Nations call on all the presidential candidates for the December 2016 general elections in Ghana to take the responsibility to contribute towards non-violent, transparent and credible elections.

This call is contained in a joint press statement issued by the three organisations in Accra today.

The UN reaches out to students

Cape Coast – 8 November 2016 – More than 1,800 students in Ghana’s Central Region have benefited from an outreach programme on the United Nations. The two-day event organized by the UN Communication Group was undertaken to help the students to be familiar with the work of the UN and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Students displaying SDGs posters

Students displaying SDGs posters

The joint effort was led by Ms. Cynthia Prah, National Officer of the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Accra, Mr. Bossman Owusu, Communications Analyst of UN Development Programme (UNDP) and Ms. Hannah Ghanson, Programme Assistant of the UN Volunteers (UNV).

Eric Dadzie of Cape Coast School for the Deaf reads the SDGs in braille

Eric Dadzie of Cape Coast School for the Deaf reads the SDGs in braille

Participating schools included the Assin Manso Senior High School, Aggrey Memorial A.M.E Zion Senior High School and the Cape Coast School for the Deaf, which also included some visually impaired students.

At each session, the UN team engaged with the students on the mandate of the UN in general, the work of UN agencies in Ghana and volunteering opportunities that exist within the system. Also taking centre stage was discussions around the 17 global goals and the role youths can play for their successful implementation.

A cross section of the audience

A cross section of the audience

The students who were elated for the opportunity to interact with UN staff paid rapt attention to the discussions and shared perspectives on what the various SDGs mean to them. To leave no one behind, Braille versions of the SDGs were also available to help visually impaired students to share thoughts on the goals. The deaf also benefitted from sign language interpretations on the global goals.

Mr Owusu of UNDP addressing the students

Mr Owusu of UNDP addressing the students

The team also answered dozens of questions posed by the students, ranging from career opportunities within the UN to the work of the various UN agencies in Ghana.The students and the schools management appreciated the opportunity for the engagement and hoped that there will be more in future.

The outreach programme forms part of UN4U initiative which seeks to raise awareness on the activities and work of the United Nations among the youth. Previous engagements had targeted students in the Ashanti, Northern and the Volta Regions of Ghana.

Market women and farmers in Ghana learn about SDGs

Kumasi, May 23, 2016 –  Sharing the message of the global development agenda has never been this interesting as it was during UNIC Accra’s interactions with three communities in the Northern and Ashanti regions.

Members of Boakurugu listening to presentation on SDGs

Members of Boakurugu listening to presentation on SDGs

Located some 20 minutes from Tamale, the Northern regional capital, is Boakurugu, a relatively small community in the Sagnarogo District of the Northern region. Inhabitants of this community are mainly small holder farmers. They plant maise, pepper and groundnut. UNIC Accra and its local partner, Global Shapers Community, Tamale, first paid a brief courtesy call on the Chief of the area, Alhassan Naporo to announce its mission.

SDGs session in the Chief's palace

SDGs session in the Chief’s palace

About 50 residents later gathered to be briefed when suddenly a rain storm hit the community. Not deterred by the sudden storm, the residents rushed to the Chief’s palace where the briefing took place. The Sustainable Development Goals and its contribution to development was the topic for presentations and discussions.  Much to our delight, Madam Fati, a 45-year old farmer in the community, stood up at the end of the event to voluntarily express her appreciation to the team for thinking of their

Presentation on SDGs at Ejisu Central market

Presentation on SDGs at Ejisu Central market

community to share information about the SDGs with them. She also expressed her delight to know that the world has not forgotten about their plight and that of the future generation.

Perhaps the climax of the outreach activities was at the Ejisu Central market.  It was on Thursday and indeed a market day when farmers and traders

A trader reading the Akan translation of the SDGs

A trader reading the Akan translation of the SDGs

bring their goods and wares to sell on the streets.  Market days are usually busy and hectic for traders and farmers. This was the moment UNIC Accra and its partners, Abibimman Foundation and Young People we Care (YPWC), decided to present the SDGs to the traders and the general public of the area. Some market traders and shoppers stopped to listen to us as others went by their own business. For this group of audience, the five Ps – People, Planet, Progress, Peace and Partnership was the focus of the presentation.

The Chief of Edwenase addressing the people

The Chief of Edwenase addressing the people

At the end of the day, the translated SDGs post cards were distributed to the traders who were very keen on understanding what the SDGs meant to their wellbeing. They also had the opportunity to ask questions which were addressed by the UNIC Accra National Information Officer, Ms. Cynthia Prah and translated in Akan by the Executive Director of YPWC, Mr. Harrison Obeng Debrah.

Earlier, the people of Edwenase, an outskirt of Kumasi, the capital of Kumasi, had their share of information on the SDGs. Here the Chief of the town, Nana Antwi Bosiako warmly welcomed UNIC Accra and the team. He also encouraged the people of the community to do what they could to help promote the SDGs.

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.”

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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.