Debates of 24 Jan 2006

PRAYERS 10 a.m.



Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Orde r ! Orde r ! Communication from the President - Absence from Ghana.
January 17, 2006
Absence from Ghana
In accordance with Article 59 of the Constitution, I John Agyekum Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana wish to notify you and Parliament that I shall be travelling to Khartoum, Sudan to attend the 6th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union and 4th Summit of African Peer Review Forum. The Summit is scheduled to take place on the 23rd of January 2006 and return on Wednesday the 25th of January 2006.
Pursuant to Article 60 (68) of the Constitution, the Vice President shall act in my absence.

OF GHANA 10 a.m.








Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Correction of Votes and Proceedings for Thursday, 19th January, 2006. Pages 1. . . 7 - [Pause.] [No correction in the Votes and Proceedings.]
Are hon. Members in possession of the Official Report for Thursday, 19th January, 2006? Hon. Majority Leader, are you in possession of the Official Report?
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 10 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Are there any corrections or omissions? [Pause.] All right. Item 3 - Business Statement for the Second Week - Chairman of the Business Committee?

Majority Leader (Mr. F. K. Owusu- Adjapong) 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Business Committee met on Thursday, 19th January 2006 and determined Business of the House for the Second Week ending Friday, 27th January 2006.
Mr. Speaker, the Committee presents its report to this honourable House as follows 10:10 a.m.
Arrangement of Business
Mr. Speaker, the Committee has scheduled twenty-one (21) Questions to be answered by various Ministers of State during the week under reference.
The details are as follows:
No. of Question(s)
i. Minister for Defence 4
ii. Minister for Trade and Industry 2
iii. Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing 5
iv. Minister for the Interior 5
v. Minister for Road Transport 5
Total Number of Questions 21
Mr. Speaker may allow Statements duly admitted to be made in the House.
Bills, Papers and Reports
Mr. Speaker, Bill, Papers and Reports may be presented to the House for consideration. Mr. Speaker, those which have already been submitted to the House, may be taken through their various stages of passage.
Motions and Resolutions
Mr. Speaker, Motions may be debated and the appropriate Resolutions taken where required.
Mr. Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 160(2) and subject to Standing Order 53, the Committee submits to this honourable House the order in which the Business of the House shall be taken during the week. Tuesday, 24th January 2006
Questions --
Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing - 228, 229, 230, 272 and 273.
Committee Sittings.

Questions --

Minister for Trade and Industry

- 64, 212

Minister for the Interior - 224, 225, 226, 227 and 268

Laying of Papers --

Report of the Committee on Gender and Children on Ghana National Commission on Children (Repeal) Bill.

Committee Sittings.

Questions --

Minister for Defence - 162, 220, 221 and 222

Committee Sittings.

Questions --

Minister for Road Transport - 129, 131, 132, 133 and 134

Second Reading of Bills The Ghana National Commission on Children (Repeal) Bill Committee Sittings.
STATEMENTS 10:10 a.m.

Mr. S. K. Adu 10:10 a.m.

Aowin): Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity offered me to make this Statement on the occasion of the celebration of Human Rights Day which fell on December 10, 2005, just before the House adjourned for the Christmas and New Year recess. The exigencies of those days could not allow for the making of this Statement at that time.

On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which has become a universal standard for defending and promoting human rights. December 10, every year has been set aside as Human Rights Day to mark the adoption of the Universal Declaration.

Mr. Speaker, the pivotal issue in the celebration of the Human Rights Day is that “All human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms,” and the theme for the December 10 Human Rights Day celebration was “End Torture Now.” As a Member of the United Nations Family, Ghana is committed to the principles of this theme.

Mr. Speaker, torture, which comes under clause 5 of the Universal Declaration, is a crime under international law; it cannot be justified under any circumstances and, accordingly, it is prohibited. Its prohibition forms part of customary international law, which means it is binding on every member of the International Community regardless of whether a state has ratified international treaties in which torture is expressly prohibited.

Mr. Speaker, the practice of torture, whether systematic or otherwise, limited or widespread, constitutes a crime against humanity. The maxim of “do to others what you expect others to do to you” is the principle underpinning this concept. It is important to recognize that the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. To quote Martin Luther King Jnr, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

But Mr. Speaker, the continuing violence, torture and turmoil, including armed robbery, domestic violence et cetera, we see in many places show that there is a missing link. Human Rights must be learned and understood and observed by everyone so that if there is a breach of it society can resist it. Perhaps it is for this reason that there is now a ground swell of opinion to the effect that human rights should be made part of the school curriculum in Ghana. To quote the UN Secretary General, Busumuru Kofi Annan, “Young friends all over the world, you are the ones who must realize these rights, now and for all time. Their fate and future is in your hands.”

Mr. Speaker, it is our responsibility as Parliamentarians to make people aware of their human rights and to ensure that they are respected and not abused in our communities. We should not only insist on our own rights but those of other people in our various communities.

To conclude, Rt. hon. Speaker, many humanists and rights activists have stood up for human rights, sometimes at the perils of their own lives. They worked bravely for what they believed in and the frontiers of human rights have kept expending with the time.

Mr. Speaker, human rights are not an option; they are essential to our survival and we must always strive diligently to ensure that governments and state parties respect them at all times, for therein lies the salvation of mankind.

Thank you again, Rt. hon. Speaker, for the opportunity.
Mr. Mahama Ayariga (NDC - Bawku Central) 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that human rights have become a common creed of mankind. Mr. Speaker, on occasions like this, opportunity is given to us as a nation to reflect on our own level of compliance with the human rights standards that have been created by the various international treaties and under our own Constitution. There is no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that the very basis of human rights is to protect the weak and vulnerable against the powerful and it is based on the painful history of oppression and suffering that the vulnerable and the weak have suffered at the hands of powerful states and other communities.
Mr. Speaker, the human rights
obligations that have been created are of different forms. With specific reference to the issue of torture that he has mentioned, Mr. Speaker, the duty is universal. It is not just a duty of the State but also a duty of all of us to take steps to ensure that no one is tortured and that when people are tortured we activate the state machinery and ensure that the perpetrators are punished. The duty extends to establishing appropriate institutions and this gives us an opportunity to review our own performance in this regard. In this country, we have a number of institutions that have an obligation to ensure that human rights
Mr. J. A. Ndebugre (PNC - Zebilla) 10:30 a.m.
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.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (NPP - Suame) 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement made by my hon. Colleague. As said by my hon. Colleague on the other side, the hon. Member for Bawku Central, Mr. Ayariga, the observance of the day should afford us the opportunity to look at our own level of compliance with human rights. Yes indeed, we have since 1993 expanded the frontiers of freedom of speech and association.
But Mr. Speaker, we must look at torture which was the subject for consideration last year and really look at it holistically. Disparities and imbalances in international trade which are making some nations hewers of wood and drawers of water whilst other nations are made to dominate the world is also an aspect of torture. And I believe that once we are considering this we should not limit ourselves to considerations regarding physical tortures. We should look at all these things because people would want
Ms. Akua Sena Dansua (NDC - North Dayi) 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, even though contributors to the earlier Statement have alluded to this Statement that I am going to make it on behalf of the Women's Caucus and also on behalf of the whole House.
Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday, January 18, 2006, Ghanaians were informed by an
Accra-Based FM Station of the gory and chilling case of a seven-year old girl whose 60 year grandfather repeatedly raped here, leaving her in a medical condition that is almost resulting in the premature end of her tender life.
Mr. Speaker, apart from this girl requiring emergency surgery to restore her ability to pass urine and defecate, the rather shattering information on her is that she is HIV positive.
Mr. Speaker, equally pathetic is the abuse case of a six-year old boy, Yayra Darko by his paternal Auntie reported in the Wednesday, January 18, 2006 issue of the Daily Graphic.
Mr. Speaker, this poor girl's case coupled with the numerous cases that continue to be reported in the media as well as those that go unreported for obvious reasons are becoming more and more alarming and one cannot but wonder why these horrible and disgusting incidents occur.
Mr. Speaker, these cases are on the increase even though the laws of Ghana provide for punitive actions for their perpetrators.
Mr. Speaker, the question that we should be asking is whether these laws such as provided for in our statute books are not punitive enough to deter such perpetrators whom one can clearly describe as social perverts from committing such heineous acts. If the answer is yes, then we should be thinking of renewing to enhance the prescribed punishment.
Mr. Speaker, one also wonders what legal system there is in this country that exposes victims such as this 7-year old girl to double jeopardy, because instead of a speedy trial such as hers, the court will still allow for adjournments and even
make the poor girl travel all the way from Accra to Kumasi each time the case is to be heard and we are told that after each such journey, the poor girl's condition deteriorates and she bleeds.
Mr. Speaker, one would not want to waste precious time and energy finding out why some of these crimes are perpetuated since our priority now is for us all to take the necessary steps to protect the life of this poor 7-year old girl who find since her situation requires emergency attention.

Mr. Speaker, one would not want to waste precious time and energy finding out why some of these crimes are perpetuated since our priority now is for us all to take the necessary steps to protect the life of this poor seven-year old girl who needs emergency attention.

Mr. Speaker, immediately, one would humbly beg the Chair to urge the Chief Justice, from a purely humanitarian point of view, to take a personal interest in this case and ensure its expeditious trail with the perpetuator brought to book.

Additionally, Mr. Speaker, while this House condemns this heinous act by this 60 - year old social pervert, we should also direct the Department of Social Welfare to immediately take custody of the girl and provide the necessary care for her since her auntie who now takes care of her has openly indicated that due to financial constraints she is unable to even buy the dressings for her wounds.

Mr. Speaker, you may also please recommend any further action that will help to ameliorate the situation of this poor girl until the matter is disposed of in court and until further medical procedures are performed on her to, at least, stabilize
Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Hon. Minister, I wanted to give you the last word on this matter.
Mr. Lee Ocran (NDC - Jomoro) 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement made by the hon. Member for North Dayi.
Mr. Speaker, any man who takes advantage of any woman, be an infant or an adult entrusted into this care, is nothing but an obtuse opportunist. But for a 60- year old man, like my hon. Colleague there -- [Laughter.] -- to take advantage of a seven-year old granddaughter is nothing but a certified idiot. What is sexually attractive about a seven-year girl to a 60-year old man? Nothing attractive; absolutely nothing.
Mr. Speaker, this is a man with no conscience and if I had my way I would recommend that the legal system should prescribe castration for such a man because once he has acquired the appetite for such things, when he goes to prison and comes back he is likely to repeat the same offence.
But, Mr. Speaker, the case of the six- year old boy is also as serious as that of
the seven-year old girl. What happened also constitutes an abuse, and that while always talking about women or girls, we should also take the case of men or the boy-child also as seriously as possible. Because we do not have a Ministry for Men's Affairs, that does not mean that any harm to a male-child is not important. So Mr. Speaker, I wish to suggest that the legal system should prescribe appropriate punishment for such wicked women who take advantage of children who are in their care and abuse them. The fact that they cannot rape them does not mean that any abuse does not constitute an abuse.
With these few words, Mr. Speaker, I wish to associate myself with the Statement made by the hon. Member.
Mr. Kwadwo Opare-Hammond (NPP - Adenta) 10:40 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to associate myself with this Statement on the floor. It is very, very pathetic. Sometimes some of us wonder where Ghana is heading to when we hear some of such stories.
Morality in Ghana is on the decrease and immorality is on the increase. Mr. Speaker, sometimes one wonders what the Ghanaian society is doing about situations like these. We hear of such stories almost everyday in the news, yet all we do is, probably, just talk about them, pontificate over them, and then just let them pass.
Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate something that I mentioned on the floor some time ago about the fact that we need to take a year serious look at rapists and the laws that concern Rapists in this nation. At that time I remember I said that even some of the developed economies are proposing castration as a way of trying to help curb such things. What prevents Ghana as a nation from beginning to look at castration as a way of - Mr. Speaker, this is very serious because, as I said, these things are occurring almost everyday and we are beginning to see very serious forms of rapes like we have just been told or
heard in the news - a seven-year old girl who has been raped several times to the extent that she is completely damaged.
Mr. Speaker, I want to ask this House and the whole of Ghana begin to consider something that would serve as a deterrent to those who perpetuate such acts and I believe castration or life imprisonment or harsher punishments that are made public would help solve some of these problems.
Dr. (Alhaji) Maj. Mustapha Ahmed 10:40 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, we are talking about human rights and I believe that what we are all advocating is a situation where we protect our human rights. Therefore, I take exception to the hon. Member's prescription of a medical situation as a punishment for somebody who violates somebody's human rights. I think castration is also a violation of human rights and therefore we should not prescribe it. - [Laughter.]
Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Hon. Member, this is not a point of order; let him continue.
Mr. Opare-Hammond 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it is only a suggestion, but when one rapes somebody the person would have severely violated the victim's rights and therefore he should not also have any rights.
Mr. Speaker, let me make my final point. The suggestions I am making is that our churches, our mosques and various religious organizations should begin speaking to these problems. We want to hear their voices on this; we want to hear
the pastors and the bishops beginning to condemn such acts with such vehemence that it would send a message to the nation that as a nation we do not accept this kind of practice.
Mr. Speaker, with these few words, I support the statement.
Alhaji Mohammed M. Muntaka (NDC - Asawase) 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the Statement made by the Second Deputy Chief Whip.
Mr. Speaker, what happened to this young girl is a very sad incident in this country. We all remember very well that our society 30 years ago was as type that protected every child in a community. Every adult was seen as a father or a mother in a commodity.
We had a lot of trust for each other. But now, with this kind of situation I am looking at the effect of this on society. If we are not careful ad we do not develop or make laws that will prevent the occurrence of these acts, very soon we will have a society in which nobody can trust the other one cannot even trust his or her mother or father and that would be very unfortunate.

Mr. Speaker, I will say that to some extent the laws are there, but how bold are we to implement the laws? The court system is frustrating and when even at the tail end judgment is rendered, how do we go ahead to take the judgment ? If one went to our prisons one would see a lot of people that have been sentenced to death, yet we do not have the courage to execute them. When the legal system that we set for ourselves has declared that those people should be executed, we still do not have the courage to execute them.

Mr. Speaker, we would all understand that God created us and He produced a
Minister for Women and Children's Affairs (Hajia Alima Mahama) 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement made by the hon. Member for North Dayi and also the earlier Statement made on the day of the Celebration of Human Rights.
Mr. Speaker, many countries are doing well on civil and political rights. But
when it comes to socio-economic rights, which are also rights under the UN, many countries are lagging behind in this area. When women about a decade ago made a statement that women's rights are human rights, what they sought to do was to make it clear that the observance of women human rights are dependent on the socio- economic rights, and the rights of women and children are being violated within the context of the socio-economic rights.
Mr. Speaker, it is indeed sad that parents and grand-parents who should be the first level of responsibility for their children should be engaged in abusing their children. What is this country coming to? Mr. Speaker, even the grandfather dares deny this statement when medically it is clear that the girl has been violated and right now she has a serious urological problem. Mr. Speaker, we at the Ministry for Women and Children's Affairs are glad to mention that the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, after an appeal made to it, decided to take up the issue and conduct the necessary medical requirements - surgery on the young girl. They will have to ensure that she is stable before the operation takes place. And I would like to thank the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital for heeding to our appeal and doing that.
Mr. Speaker, this also br9ngs me in line with our legal system, and that statement has been made that we have a lot of laws, but the implementation and the observance of these laws are the parts that we lack. But what even is more important is the rehabilitation and reintegration and counseling of these victims which our laws lack, and I am glad that this Parliament last year passed the Human Trafficking law. Within the context of the Human Trafficking law there would be aspects of reintegration, rehabilitation and counseling.
The women of Ghana Hon. Members
have heard the debate going on about the Domestic Violence Law. The issues that women of Ghana are asking for are even within the context of the rehabilitation, the counseling and the reintegration. After the medical issued what happens to the girl? Who is going to take care of her? For us to have the kind of human resource development that we require, we need to have programmes for this -- legal backing and budget for this. And it is my hope that this year the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs would put up a budget to support cases like this. And we hope when it comes, Parliament will support us to have a budget line to support cases like this.

Mr. Speaker, I will also propose - And this is an initiative that I will take together with the Ministry of Manpower Redevelopment and the Department of Social Welfare so that we will all, including the citizens of this country, put up a hotline for abused children. And when we talk about abused children, we are not just talking about girls; we are talking about boys too because they are also being abused, and abused by both males and females. So I agree with the hon. Member who talked about this earlier.

We are talking about children; we need to take care of our children. We need to

have a toll-freeline, a hotline and we need to take th4 necessary steps to get Ghana Telecom or the other telephone systems in the country to have a hotline so that women can call immediately without anybody prompting them, I hope that the Department of Social Welfare would be able to do that.

Mr. Speaker, there is another problem access to justice because of lack of courts. I will use this opportunity to call upon the District Assemblies to put up structures for courts. We have situations where women carry their children up and down to various courts, from one district to the other, and in the end they give up because they do not have lorry fares to continue. This falls within the domain of the District Assemblies and I would pray that they use part of their common fund to ensure that courts are established throughout the country, if not at the country level, at least every district should have this kind of court so that women and children will be able to access justice accordingly.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that everybody needs to talk about, everybody needs to support; and we all need to condemn it. And at various levels, at our constituencies, we need to talk about the issue of violence. This is a real case of domestic violence; it has happened within the context of the family. We need to sensitize people on domestic violence and not to preempt this House. We are working on it and soon the Bill will be brought and the women and children of this country will be happy that Parliament will be working and ensuring that not only do they seek legal rights but that there would be a fund for them to be supported, rehabilitated and counseled.

I would like to thank all those various institutions, including the media houses,

that have helped so far to bring this to the fore for everybody to know about it.
Mr. Speaker 10:50 a.m.
At the commencement of Public Business Item 5 - Laying of Papers.
PAPERS 11 a.m.

Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Item 6 - Committee Sittings, hon. Majority Leader?
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, just to remind hon. Colleagues thata the activigies of the “Celebration of the Parliamentary Week” are ongoing and therefore if hon. Members would make it a point to attend the remaining activities. With that I move that this House do adjourn till next week Tuesday at 10 o'clock in the morning.
Mr. Mahama Ayariga 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 11.03 a.m. till 24th January, 2006 at 10.00 at 10.00 a.m.