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CHRAJ supports Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture   
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The Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) on Thursday reiterated its support for the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) and urged government to expedite action on the process.

The ratification of the treaty will further consolidate democracy and respect for human rights in Ghana, Mr Emile Short, the Commissioner said.

Mr Short was addressing journalists at a press conference organised in Accra in connection with a visit by the Geneva-based Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) team and to outline the efforts made so far by the OPCAT Working Committee in Ghana.

APT is a Geneva-based international non-governmental organisation working worldwide to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment and had played a leading role in the adoption and entry into force of the Robben Islands Guidelines and the OPCAT.

The Commissioner said Ghana signed the OPCAT in November 2006, but had since not ratified the treaty.

Mr Short said Ghanas commitment to entrenching democracy and protection of human rights made it imperative for prompt ratification of OPCAT.

He said as part of worldwide advocacy programme for ratification of OPCAT, the APT team first visited Ghana in 2006 and in collaboration with CHRAJ, organised a round-table for key stakeholders on the ratification of OPCAT.

That, he said, culminated in the formation of the Working Committee, comprising representatives of the Ghana Bar Association, Centre for Democratic Development, Ghana Journalists Association and Amnesty International.

In line with its commitment to upholding and protection the fundamental rights and dignity of all persons, Ghana ratified the UN Convention against Torture (CAT) in 2000. CAT imposes an obligation on State Parties to protect all persons against torture, and all forms of degrading and ill-treatment, he said.

Mr Short said so far 49 countries had already signed the treaty including six African countries, namely, Liberia, Senegal, Mali, Benin, Nigeria and Mauritius.

He said should Ghana ratify the Treaty within the year, it would possibly become the 50th country and would be able to present a candidate for the sub-Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

Mr Mark Thompson, a member of the APT, said the Working Committee would among other things make regular visits to places of detention, interact with the authorities and interview private people in detention in the country.

He said Ghana had a standard prison system and its rule of law, and governance was also an advantage to make ratifying the treaty a success.
Source: GNA

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