Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for this opportunity. There is no doubt that our country is committed to the advancement and development of human rights not only in Ghana but in the whole world and that must be the reason why the framers of our current Constitution provided a whole chapter - chapter 5 of the Constitution - to human rights. But I just want to isolate one aspect of the theme that the Statement has been premised upon, that is torture, and to submit that we must not necessarily be looking at torture in terms of political
torture, torture of politicians because torture goes beyond that.
And one very clear example that has taken place within these weeks in this country in Accra is the rape of a seven-year old girl by her grandfather. There can be no bigger torture than that - the trauma, the physical harm that has been done to the girl. In fact, the girl has been killed; she has been executed because she is HIV positive as well.
Now this girl passed through a certain process before things became clear to the whole world and the whole public. The processes through which the girl passed before everything came into the open constituted the torture. She was compelled by her grandfather to look at things that she would otherwise not have liked to look at, to handle things that she otherwise would not have handled, to perform certain acts that she otherwise should not have performed and that constituted serious torture.
But we do not look at torture in these terms. What we immediately think about when torture is mentioned is arresting
people and detaining them and sending them to police stations and giving them slaps and so on. I am not saying that those are not important. Those things are also important but I want us to come down a little bit and look at the real, practical aspects of how certain vulnerable elements in our society are actually going through torture daily and even hourly.
That brings us again to the question of the children and the facilities that are supposed to be available to them that are not available to them. If you go to many homes now there are a lot of young children, especially young girls who have been deprived of the opportunity of going to school. There are families, there are fathers and mothers who have sent their own children to school but who have gone to the rural areas, the villages and brought other people's children to stay with. They wake up at 4.00 a.m. and sweep, dust and work until 10.00 p.m.
They do not go to school; they do not have sufficient rest and I believe that that is real torture. I can go on and on but what I want to say is that we condemn torture whether it is political, social or whatever, but we must descend, we must come down and really look at the nitty-gritty of these matters that I have raised and handle them properly so that we would be seen to be doing real justice to the vulnerable in society in consonance with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights.
With these few words, Mr. Speaker, I wish to associate myself with this very, very important Statement.
Mr. Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo (NDC Wa
Central): Mr. Speaker, the fundamental laws of our land ensure that every Ghanaian enjoys certain rights. Some of these rights are inalienable, whether they are given to you or not you have them; and the greatest of them is the right to live, and the right to live is automatically also linked with the
right to work. Mr. Speaker, the concern here is that a lot of us are worried about those rights that are violated of persons which can be seen and described easily by the onlooker. For example, if somebody is attacked by armed robbers, we would say that his rights are violated. The child who was molested and tortured, and sexually harrassed by her grandfather is seen very nakedly as violation of human rights.
The critical issue about rights however, is about how people can be dignified in their own country, live dignified lives, be able to work and take care of themselves.
And I am concerned with the fact that these rights that are given to people or that have to be respected because they are God-given rights are violated because people are not given the right to work. “Not given the right to work” does not mean that they are prevented physically but are not given the right instrument in life to be able to fulfil the potential they have and be able to manifest it in the world of work. The teaming young people in this country who first of all did not have the opportunity to develop themselves and therefore are not working, have their rights being violated by instruments that inevitably are disturbing their potential to prove themselves in the world of work.
Mr. Speaker, the right to work is so important and so critical. In order to describe or to talk about human rights abuses or human rights we would have to lengthen the frontiers of what we mean by economic rights so that we can create room for as many people as possible to live dignified lives and be able to respect themselves so as to subject themselves to anything that eventually would put them in a situation where their rights would be violated.
But Mr. Speaker, importantly, the Ghana Police Service must be very much cautioned about how they handle suspects. Before anybody could be tried and pronounced guilty or not, usually the police would have meted out a lot of punishments to them before they get to the point where a decision is taken about their crimes. Secondly, before people are asked to got to court for justice to be dispensed, especially traffic violators, the police take upon themselves the right to take something away from them and to violate their rights. And Mr. Speaker, this is killing our spirits in Ghana to portray ourselves as citizens who can contribute to the economy of this nation.
Mr. Speaker, with these few words, I thank you very much and I want to support the position presented by my hon. Colleague.