53rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council (19 June 2023 to 14 July 2023)
Item 6: Universal Periodic Review – Ghana
This statement is supported by Accra Atheists and the Humanist Association of Ghana.
We thank the Ghanaian Delegation for its presentation. Whilst we commend the fact that Ghana’s human rights record has been improving since its first review, there is still much improvement needed in a number of areas.
Regarding the problem of witchcraft accusations in the country, instead of closing “witch camps” – which sometimes serve as the only safe haven from the abuse and death threats victims receive – the focus needs to be on criminalizing witchcraft accusations, the abusers and perpetrators of the act, and educating the general public on the issue, as has been done by Humanists in the past.1 This will not only discourage the practice but make it possible for survivors to return to their homes safely without fear of repercussions.
In terms of issues around discrimination, we were pleased to see Ghana’s support of Cameroon’s recommendation to “accelerate the promotion of non-discrimination against minorities, women and persons with disabilities.” Even with its Disability Act, Ghana has been unable to ensure buildings are accessible, meaning people with disabilities continue to be discriminated against.2 Non-religious people and people of minority religions also continue to face discrimination; many are forced to live closeted lives and in some cases are obliged to worship at educational institutions and workplaces or face persecution.
The situation for LGBTI+ minorities is particularly worrisome and we note with concern that not one recommendation on LGBTI+ rights was accepted. The delegation noted that, “the Government’s position is reflected in “Ghanaian Family Values Bill;” as we have said in this Council previously,3 that Bill infringes upon a whole host of rights, including to privacy, expression, movement, association, housing, and education, and has been described by UN experts as “a system of State-sponsored discrimination and violence.”4
We are deeply concerned by the reports of MPs having been intimidated into supporting the Bill and that there has not been any dialogue with the LGBTI+ community or its allies despite the strong opposition of the Bill by many Ghanaians. We urge Ghana to reconsider the bill and accept recommendations on the decriminalization of same-sex relations.
2 https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/PM-01-2023-0004/full/html?skipTracking=true, https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/access-to-public-facilities-pwds-suffer-discrimination-it-s-16-years-after-act-715.html
'Statement on Ghana’s Universal Periodic Review (2023)', Humanists International