31Jul

NANHRI Engages CHRAJ On LGBTI Rights

A delegation from the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI) has paid a two-day working visit to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) on a follow-up exercise to assess the extent to which CHRAJ has integrated responses to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE) – related violence and discrimination within its institution.
The team which was led by the NANHRI Consultant on LGBTI, Lawrence Mute who is also the Deputy Chair of African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, and the Former Commissioner of the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights as well as a Law Lecturer of the Kenyan School of Law, sought to collate information as regards the plans and actions undertaken by CHRAJ aimed at promoting and protecting the fundamental human rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals in Ghana.
The follow-up exercise also aimed at determining and assessing the impact of the engagement between CHRAJ and NANHRI’s SOGIE Project and to recommend the next steps.
It is in this light that CHRAJ in collaboration with the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) with support from USAID and the Health Policy Project (HPP) developed an online Discrimination Reporting System (DRS) and the SMS module where People Living with HIV and AIDS and other Key Population (KPs) including LGBTI persons could lodge a complaint to specially designated staff of the Commission under strict privacy and confidentiality.
The Health Rights Desk which was established and launched on December 1, 2013, is a system designed to facilitate reporting of cases on issues of stigma and discrimination, and also for tracking such cases in a better manner.
Additionally, the Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr. Joseph Whittal has on numerous occasions issued press statements and granted media interviews to emphatically indicate that the Commission is mandated to promote and protect the fundamental human rights and freedoms of all persons living in Ghana including LGBTI individuals as well as People living with HIV (PLHIV).
Commissioner Whittal maintains that though the Commission does not endorse the practices of LGBTI persons, it has the sole national responsibility to fight for their rights in instances where they are being discriminated against. He urged all to be mindful of the import of Article 17 (1), (2), and (3) of the 1992 Constitution which provides clarity on Equality and freedom from Discrimination as follows:
(17) (1) “All persons shall be equal before the law.
(2) A person shall not be discriminated against on grounds of gender, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status.
(3) For the purposes of this article, “discriminate” means to give different treatment to different persons attributable only or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, gender, occupation, religion or creed, whereby persons of one description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another description are not made subject or are granted privileges or advantages which are not granted to persons of another description”.
The UN General Assembly in a series of resolution has called on States to ensure the protection of the rights of all persons under their jurisdiction and to investigate promptly and thoroughly all killings including those motivated by the person’s sexual orientation.
Breakdown of cases reported under CHRAJ’s DRS as at December 2017 are the following:
Number of cases
87 Cases have been reported since the inception of the DRS.
PLHIV 32
LGBTI 41
Sex workers 8
Others 6

Gender
Male 54
Female 32
Others 1

Status of cases
Completed 30
Investigations 35
Referred 9
Declined 12
Transferred 1

Category of violence and discrimination against LGBTI people
Violence and discrimination complaints from LGBTI persons ranges from denial of health services, blackmail and extortion, denial of police assistance, physical abuse, threats or harassment and denial of employment. Complaints of violence were referred to the appropriate institutions for redress.

Most of the cases reported were from the southern part of Ghana mostly from the regional capitals.
The Commission has developed a privacy and confidential policy to guide its staff in its related works.
The CHRAJ in December 2014 trained about 460, PLHIV, KPs and Service Providers in six (6) regions of Ghana, (Greater Accra, Eastern, Western, Ashanti, Central, Brong Ahafo and Volta Region). The training centered on the rights of persons being discussed and how to report cases relating to them using the system.
In an interview with the leader of the NANHRI team, Commissioner Lawrence Mute was overwhelmed with the strides CHRAJ has chalked as regards the implementation of initial commitments made to reduce, or if possible curtail human rights violations on LGBTI individuals.
He was also impressed with the clear protocols CHRAJ has outlined to facilitate the process of upholding the dignity of LGBTI persons in Ghana.
He lauded CHRAJ’s stance of reaching the public through the issuing of press statements, public education and awareness creation on media platforms whenever hate speeches on LGBTI individuals are made to throw more light on their fundamental human rights and freedoms.
Commissioner Mute was of the view that effective redress on the part of violators was still outstanding. He was hopeful that stringent measures would be taken by relevant institutions to deal with perpetrators.