PDeath threats and banishment against Persons with Albinism (PWAs) have been found to be rife in some communities in the Bono East and Eastern regions in a latest study.
The research, conducted between April and May this year, identified the prevalence in Burukwa and Akwamufie in the Kwahu East and Asuogyaman districts of the Eastern Region.
It also established such cruelty in Abease, a community near Atebubu in the Pru East District of the Bono East purporting that, abuse against PWAs was extensive across many communities in the country.
In all three communities, it emerged that such practices emanated from fulfilling ritual sacrifices to some lesser gods namely “Ajokokrofi”, “Oku Abena” and “Tutu-Abo” in Abease, Burukuwa and Akwamufie respectively.
At an event to mark International Albinism Awareness Day in Accra yesterday, the Ghana Association of Persons with Albinism (GAPA), which undertook the research, petitioned the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate the incidences of human rights abuses of PWAs in those communities.
Executive Director of the association, Newton Katseko, in presenting the five-point petition, demanded that CHRAJ ensures the immediate abolition of customs that banish PWAs from their communities while taking legal action in collaboration with the Ghana Police Service (GPS) to establish disability violation units in such areas.
He also called for the initiation of special hotlines for residents in suspected communities to report cases of threats and human rights abuses against PWAs.
“CHRAJ should as a matter of urgency engage the National House of Chiefs and the Ministry of Chieftaincy as part of the process for cultural reforms.
“That, in the view of the fact that, the custom is rooted in local religious or spiritual beliefs, CHRAJ considers both the mainstream legal options and the alternative approach to cultural change that may involve collaboration with the traditional councils in the target communities,” he said.
Adding his voice, President of GAPA, Mr Abdul Wahed Ishaq pointed out the rise of social isolation among PWAs in the area of accessing education, health, employment, security among others, calling for increased public awareness on the health condition to minimise the forms of discrimination.
Mr Ishaq signalled the association’s determination to “challenge all negative myths against PWAs and to promote their welfare, so that they can take their rightful place in the society and enjoy their human rights.”
Dr Isaac Annan, receiving the petition on behalf of the commission pledged its willingness to probe further into the evidences presented to ensure that PWA’s lived a life of dignity, as enshrined in the Constitution.
“Every human being has the basic right to live free of fear or intimidation, and we assure you that we will deal decisively with this petition.”
He used the occasion to rally all Ghanaians to “demand that your rights are upheld and respected in all circumstances. Feel free to report any form of discrimination of any sort to the commission and we are ever willing to defend your rights,” he stated.
International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD) is celebrated annually on June 13 every year to celebrate the human rights of persons with albinism worldwide.
This year’s theme, ‘Still Standing Strong’, is a call to recognise, celebrate and stand in solidarity with persons with albinism around the world, and to support their cause – from their accomplishments and positive practices to the promotion and protection of their human rights.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH AND DANIEL ASANTE