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December 15, 2019
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Persons With Albinism Petitioned CHRAJ Against Customary Banishment

In the wake of violence against Persons with Albinism, the Ghana Association of Persons with Albinism (GAPA), has petitioned the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate the incidences of human rights abuses of PWAs in some communities in the country.

According to GAPA, research findings have shown that there exist a prevalence of customs of ritual banishment of persons with albinism in some communities in Ghana.
The petition was presented at an event to observe the International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD), in Accra Thursday, June 13.

The research, conducted between April and May 2019, revealed the prevalence in Burukwa and Akwamufie in the Kwahu East and Asuogyaman districts of the Eastern Region.

Further findings also identified such inhuman treatment at Abease, a community near Atebubu in the Pru East District of the Bono East purporting that, abuse against PWAs was extensive across many communities in the country.

“In all three communities, it emerged that such practices emanated from fulfilling ritual sacrifices to some lesser gods namely “Ajokokrofi”, “Oku Abena” and “Tutu-Abo” in Abease, Burukuwa and Akwamufie respectively,” GAPA stated in its petition.

The International Albinism Awareness Day had been proclaimed by the United Nations (UN) to help spread information about albinism and celebrated on June 13, every year.

The theme for this year’s celebration was: “Still Standing Strong” which the Executive Director of GAPA, Newton Katseko, said CHRAJ and for that matter, the government have a moral and constitutional responsibility to stand by PWA to enable them to continue to stand strong.
Persons with albinism are born with a congenital condition characterised by the complete or partial absence of melanin, the pigment that gives colour to the skin, hair and eyes. Other says is a medical condition but non-contagious and occurs in all racial and ethnic groups across the world.

Nevertheless, Mr Katseku asked that CHRAJ ensures immediate abolition of customs that banish PWAs from their communities in the country.

He said, persons with albinism have the rights to life and security protection as well as the right not to be subjected to torture and ill-treatment but they have been subjected with discrimination again their rights to quality education, access to good healthcare services, among others in the country.

Newton Katseku present petition to Dr Annan

This, the Executive Director called for legal action through collaboration with the Ghana Police Service and the state prosecution unit of the Attorney General to establish disability violation desks to help fight the outmoded customs.

He believed the collaboration of this institution couple with intensive awareness campaign would help address the increasing levels of violent attacks and related human rights violation against persons with albinism in Sub Saharan Africa with Ghana leading the way.
“CHRAJ should as a matter of urgency engage the National House of Chiefs and the Ministry of Chieftaincy as part of the process for cultural reforms.

“That, in the view of the fact that the custom is rooted in local religious or spiritual beliefs, CHRAJ considers both the mainstream legal options and the alternative approach to cultural change that may involve collaboration with the traditional councils in the target communities,” he said.

He also advocated for the initiation of special hotlines for residents in suspected communities to report cases of threats and human rights abuses against PWAs.

After receiving the petition, Dr Isaac Annan, of CHAJ assured GAPA of the Commission commitment to enforce laws and go further to investigate the issues raised in the petition to ensure that their life is not endangered but also received state support and recognition as stated by the constitution.

According to him, “every human being has the basic right to live free of fear or intimidation, and we assure you that we will deal decisively with this petition.”

Dr Annan, however, encouraged Ghanaians to ensure that their rights are upheld and respected in all spheres, stressing that, the Commission doors are opened to receive all reports of human rights abuse and racial discrimination and will defend the vulnerable including members of GAPA.

On his part, Mr Francis Yaw Ansah, Director for Education of Engage Now Africa (ENA) a Non-Governmental Organization and sponsor of the event, called on the government to provide special support for persons living with albinism in the country.

He stated that all human beings are born free and equal, dignity and right for that matter no one have the right to take another life nor banish another.

Mr Ansah said ENA would continue to offer proactive support to persons with albinism, nothing that, since ENA establishment in 2005, it has work in deprived communities to rescue and sport victims in Ghana and beyond who suffered one form of violent attacks because of their albinism condition.
In his welcome address, President of GAPA, Mr Abdul Wahed Ishaq bemoaned the increasing discrimination against PWAs in the country from accessing education, health, employment and other social gathering and called for the increased campaign on the rights of PWA among members of the public.

He added that GAPA would extend its awareness campaign across the country, especially in communities was the customary banishment still practices as it appeared many of them is ignorant about the condition of albinism.

Sources: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Nyaaba

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