Ghana: Human rights of people with mental disabilities violated

November 25, 2013


The recent visit to Ghana by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture highlights the need to end abuses against people with mental disabilities in that country, Human Rights Watch says.

The UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, visited Ghana from 8 to 14 November. He expressed deep concern about the state of Ghana’s mental health care system, and called for urgent reform of both psychiatric hospitals and so-called prayer camps for people with mental disabilities. In some of the thousands of privately run prayer camps in Ghana, people with mental disabilities – some as young as five  are shackled by their ankles to trees in open compounds, where they sleep, defecate, and bathe. As a first step, the government of Ghana should implement its 2012 Mental Health Act, and abandon this practice.

“The UN expert on torture expressed serious concerns about the use of electro-shock therapy and prolonged shackling of people with mental disabilities,” said Shantha Rau Barriga, disability rights director at Human Rights Watch. “He sent a clear message: the Ghanaian government should do what it takes to end this inhuman and degrading treatment – and it should do so soon.”

Source: Ghana: Urgent Need to Fix Mental Health System, Human Rights Watch website