Regional News of 2014-04-28

Report human right abuses by churches – CHRAJ

Ashanti Regional Director of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Mercy Larbi, has expressed concern about growing reports of human rights abuses perpetrated under the cover of religious beliefs.

Some churches operating prayer camps have in several instances subjected troubled followers to inhumane treatment in the name of exorcising perceived evil spirits or healing them of their diseases. In some cases, vulnerable persons, particularly those suffering from mental ailments, have been chained and given weird treatments that worsen their situations.

Acknowledging that such practices were mostly being perpetrated by some churches in prayer camps, she asked victims of such abuses, particularly their relatives, to report to the Commission or the police for appropriate actions.

“I am not a reverend father or a reverend sister, but I know that the Bible talks about a lot of things. The Bible protects people’s rights, so if you are abusing people’s rights and we are saying it, the Bible doesn’t say that we should not touch you; so we should just take that thing out of our mind that the Bible is saying that touch not my anointed. If you are 'misbehaving ,' we have to touch you,” she stated.

She expressed worry about the failure of victims of such abuses to report to the appropriate authorities, adding that, the lackadaisical attitude of Ghanaians towards such matters is not helping and must change.

“We have to educate people because if the person knows what an abuse of his or her right is, that person can take action. If you come to CHRAJ, we’ve been going round some of these prayer camps. We cannot go round the whole country, but every year, we have something called monitoring. We monitor some of these prayer camps and we issue reports. But those who don’t have that education should know what is right from wrong. If you report to CHRAJ, we look at where we can, because there are some criminal issues in it such as rape and other things that happen there, which can only be handled by the police.”

“When it comes to the other things where your rights has actually been abused, we will go to court and handle it for you. But the problem is that people don’t actually report. I always say that if you don’t report, we will hear it, but we cannot act on it.”