What Are The Rights Of Refugees And Migrants?

refugeesThe global situation of refugees and migrants has been very weird and devastating. The question anyone would ask is, why the focus on refugees and migrants?

The past years have seen millions of refugees and migrants failed by global inaction on human rights as governments appear more interested in national borders than human beings. Those forced from their homes are the world’s most vulnerable people, often condemned to life in the showdowns.

The main causes of refugees and migrants’ situation are the results of sectarian, political, religious and/or ethnic conflicts while others are people looking for greener pastures in other countries.

Many conflict situations forcing people to leave or migrate from their own countries of origin to become refugees are very common. One may mention the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Mali, Kenya, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Syria and North Korea.
The rights of millions of people who have escaped conflicts and persecution, or migrated to look for work and better life for themselves and their families, have been abused while governments around the world are showing more interest in protecting their national borders rather than the rights of their citizens or the rights of refugees or opportunities within those borders.

Many are aware of the atrocities and human right abuses that innocent refugees and migrants experience on daily basis. These include rape, torture, killings, and arbitrary detentions. One may recall that two months ago, as many as 150 illegal African immigrants escaped from Aburshada prison in Gharyan City of Libya.

It is most probable that some of those might include Ghanaians and painfully, they were not taken through proper courts of justice before landing them in prisons.

In Africa, armed conflicts escalated across much of the continent, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Sudan. The civilian population bore the brunt of the violence and thousands were displaced.

Gross Human Right abuses were committed by Myriad of armed groups and security forces. Human rights abuses by Islamist armed groups continued in Somalia and Nigeria. Violations were also committed by security and intelligence agencies in the name of ‘counter-terrorism’. In Nigeria, many people accused of being members of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb were ill-treated in an attempt to extract confessions.

There were marked incidents of police brutalities throughout the year in Africa. In South Africa, police authorities deployed units armed with assault rifles and live ammunition to crush a strike by miners at LONMIN Marikana platinum mine. Thirty-four (34) miners were killed during that attack. At least six (6) were killed by security forces during pre-election unrest in Senegal.
Many governments continued their assault on freedom of expression. In countries such as Ethiopia, Rwanda and Sudan, human rights activists experienced increased surveillance.

In the Gambia, Nigeria and South Sudan, journalists were harassed, intimidated and imprisoned and eighteen (18) journalists were killed in Somalia.

Death penalty was imposed in a number of countries in Africa, although applied only in a few. The Gambia, for instance, carried out its first executions in 30 years. And the use of torture by police and security forces remained widespread with cases reported in Guinea, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Senegal and Zimbabwe amongst others.

Arbitrary arrests were also common in many countries. For example in Cote d’Ivoire, more than 200 people suspected of threatening state security were illegally detained.

For sure, I am very aware that what is going through readers’ minds at this point is that Ghana has not been mentioned in any of the above grave human right abuses. So, does that mean, all is well at home? Perhaps we may answer this question as Yes and No.
Yes, because if we compare the human right situation in Ghana to those in many African countries, we can say, indeed Ghana’s human rights abuses have improved gradually and steadily.
However, I will also say No, because there remains a lot to be done in Ghana for us to continue to improve on our human rights record.
Although no executions have been carried out, twenty-seven (27) men were sentenced to death in 2012. At the end of 2012, 166 people were on death row, including four (4) women.

It is fulfilling to note that the government of Ghana accepted the Constitutional Review Commission’s recommendation on death penalty which remains in the statute books at the end of 2012.

In January 2012, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly demolished about 500 houses and structures along Accra railway line. One estimated suggested that over 1,500 people were left homeless. They were only given few days notice to leave their communities and were offered no compensation or alternative accommodation. Thousands more continued to be at risk of forced eviction.

Violence against women and girls remained rife with nearly 10,000 cases reported to the Ghana Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) by 2012. Violence against women was thought to be under-reported and not adequately addressed by the authorities.

Court proceedings were long and slow. Access to legal aid was limited or non-existent and some prisoners spent years waiting to be tried.
Prisoners were overcrowded while inmates were not provided with basic services including medical care. In March, prisoners were transferred to Ankaful maximum security prison in an attempt to address overcrowding.Samuel Tsama

From the aforementioned, Ghana is gradually but steadily improving its human rights record but what about the rest of Africa and other parts of the developing world?

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