Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) has successfully carried out sensitization exercise for stakeholders within the justice system; Ghana Police, Judiciary Services, National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), Department of Social Welfare (DSW) and the Media. The stakeholders ‘sensitization exercise, which is an initiative of GNAD with funding support from the Disability Rights Fund (DRF) aims at raising awareness on the Human Rights needs of Deaf People in Ghana and to sensitize and build the capacity of stakeholders within the justice system.
Presenting survey findings on the theme ‘10years of Person With Disabilities (PWDs) Act 715, where have we reached’, GNAD Project Manager, Juventus Duorinaah, observed that while half of Deaf People who took part in the survey had some level of knowledge about their rights under the PWDs Act and United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons With Disabilities (UNCRPD), the use of relevant provisions to promote the protection of their fundamental rights has been rather low.
Mr. Duorinaah, who is also the led investigator in the baseline survey further observed that about 45% of the survey respondents reportedly encounter one or two forms of human rights abuse such as discrimination on account of disability, isolation and the family and community level and difference treatment at family and community levels. He observed however that in each case, deaf people do not know how to seek redress utilizing the justice system.
Mr. Duorinaah stated that some of the barriers in access to justice include language, duty bearers’ limited knowledge about deaf issues by stakeholders, complicated nature of Ghana’s justice system, doubt about the capacity of duty bearers to understand the needs of the deaf person and economic challenges. Other challenges identified as barriers in access to justice include lack of qualified Ghanaian Sign Language Interpreters and cost associated with payment of services of Sign Language Interpreters.
Drawing on relevant national and international legislation, the report noted that stakeholders in the justice system were mandated by legislations to ensure improved access to justice for deaf people, adding that in spite of improvement in justice delivery in recent times, Ghana’s justice system remains inaccessibility for deaf people.
The sensitization exercise, which took place in three project Districts, Bolga Municipal, Tamale Metropolis and Wa Municipality, was participated by key stakeholders from the Ghana Police Services, Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DVVSU), Chief Investigators of officers of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), representatives from NCC, the Judiciary Services and Media. Key issues discussed include challenges in access to justice for Deaf people under Article 13 of the CRPD and challenges access to information under Article 21 of the CRPD.
The DRF sponsored project also seeks to advance awareness among Deaf People about their Fundamental Human Rights under the PWDs Act, Act 715 and the UNCRPD. The project has as its tenet, the rights embedded within article 13 (access to justice) and article 21 (access to information). Among the key activities carried out in the project includes baseline survey to assess knowledge and utilization of human rights laws by Deaf People in 3 districts, training and capacity building of deaf people to self-advocate and stakeholders sensitization. Other activities carried out include building the capacity of board members and regional leaders.