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A group Photograph of participant at the two-day consultative meeting in Accra

Mindfreedom begins national consultations to make case for psychosocial disability in the UPR process

MindFreedom- Ghana, a Mental Health Advocacy Organization has embarked on nationwide round table consultations with Civil Society Organizations to make case for the recognition of human rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities in the 4th Cycle Universal Peer Review (UPR) process.

The UPR is a unique process that involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The ultimate aim of the mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.

With support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the in-country consultations is purposed to facilitate national dialogues aimed to promote the human rights conditions of persons with psychosocial disabilities.

The consultative meetings are being organized with representation from the 16 administrative regions of Ghana in four successive zonal locations.

The regions in Ghana have been placed in 4 zones composed of the following:

Zone 1: Greater-Accra, Volta, Oti, and Eastern region. Zone 2: Ashanti Western-North, Western and Central region. Zone 3:Bono, Bono East, Ahafo and Savanna Region. Zone 4: Upper West, Northern, Upper East, and North-East Region.

The meetings are expected to culminate in the drafting and submission of an NGO coalition report on the status of human rights protection for persons with psychosocial disabilities in Ghana to the UN Human Rights Council.

That, according to MindFreedom Ghana, would contribute to an inclusive national process of monitoring, assessment, and reporting on Ghana’s human rights performance generally, and on mental health and psychosocial disabilities, specifically in the context of the UPR mechanism and ultimately, increase UPR recommendations of Ghana’s human rights obligations to persons with psychosocial disabilities.

Speaking at a two-day consultative meeting in Accra, the Executive Secretary of  MindFreedom  Ghana, Mr Dan Taylor, explained that the consultations are expected to create the opportunity for psychosocial disability organizations to access and interact with the United National Human Rights system vis-a-vis the UPR mechanism.

He noted, “This will further promote inclusive participation of these organizations while strengthening their capacity to embark on international human rights advocacy in the context of the UPR.”

Among other activities under the project, MindFreedom – Ghana would develop and disseminate public awareness materials (fact sheets, Posters & flyers).It would also raise awareness on the UPR recommendations to increase public advocacy for the adoption of UPR recommendations while impressing upon duty bearers to undertake a follow-up action to implement them.

“It will strengthen duty bearers’ response and accountability to improving conditions of mental health and rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities” Mr Taylor added.

Ms Wendy Abbey, A consultant on the project told participants that the UPR is a universal process because it deals with all areas of Human Rights and involves all the member states of the UN.  Ms Abbey indicated that Ghana’s Human Rights record has been reviewed three times by the Human Rights Council in 2008, 2012, and 2017.

In Ghana, NGOs’ involvement in the UPR did not commence until after the first round and four years of the review in 2012 at the invitation of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) as part of the national process for drafting the State Report to the UPR. It is on record that the State did not embark on wide consultations with civil society organizations till the second round of the review process where it involved five national NGOs in consultations.

Subsequently, the momentum for NGOs’ involvement in the process appreciated, leading to the creation and engagement of a CSO UPR Platform in the reporting process for UPR. Nonetheless, Ngo’s involvement and consultations ahead of the review since the third cycle have been centralized and with less than a third representation of persons with psychosocial disabilities, support groups, and organizations coming on board.

Data available at Human Rights Council points to the fact that only one psychosocial disability organization participated in the reporting and submission of alternative reports on the human rights conditions of mental health in the third cycle.

She stressed that as right holders within the international review mechanism of human rights, persons with psychosocial disabilities and their organizations have a right to participate in the UPR process by contributing to monitoring and reporting of Ghana’s compliance to the implementation of human rights obligations towards them.

On his part, Mr Brandford K. Tay, Project manager at KEKELI Ghana, an NGO based in Ho in the Volta Region commended the organizers of the consultative workshop for specifically flagging the issues of mental health in the upcoming UPR process.

He was of the view that the recommendations that would come out of the various stakeholder meetings across the country would assist duty bearers to make robust policy decisions to address challenges in the mental health sub-sector.  

By: Mohammed Suleman/ Publicagendagh.com

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