Human Rights Organization, Amnesty International Ghana (AI Ghana) has began a series of consultative processes among civil society organizations aimed at soliciting for views which would make an input into the draft of a national eviction policy intended to serve as a guide for carrying out proper demolition exercises in the country.
At a forum organized by the group which came on the theme: “Sustainable alternatives to forced evictions; a Human Rights Obligation of Local Government through Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), brought together representatives of some civil society organizations working within the human rights sector for the first time to discuss, share ideas and proffer solutions which would inform decisions leading to the formulation of the national eviction policy.
Addressing the gathering, the Campaign & Fundraising Coordinator at AI Ghana, Samuel Agbotsey observed the move to hold the workshop was emanated from a desktop survey conducted by its outfits which revealed major gaps on how eviction exercises are conducted within the MMDAs in the country.
The survey, he indicated, was conducted through data gathering using an interview approach which saw 3 out of 5 MMDAs in the country namely; the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly and the Sekondi Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly engaged after which adequate information was sought.
“From the responses to the questions, it is clear that each of the MMDA’s are doing their own thing when it comes to the issue of eviction”.
“Also, relocation plans are inadequate and no adequate follow ups to measure impacts of these evictions undertaken”.
“There is therefore the need to engage stakeholders more on the outcome of this report to inform work on national eviction policy/guideline that is human rights friendly and meets international standard”, Samuel Agbotsey posited.
In his opening address at the forum, Director of Amnesty International Ghana, Frank Doyi bemoaned the rate at which forced evictions are carried out by government agencies across the country without observance of proper procedures in conformity to the International human rights laws including the 1992 constitution of Ghana.
“So we think that it is important that we have a guideline that would provide a kind of framework for our own authorities particularly our Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies when it comes to evicting people from places they occupied unlawfully”.
During the meeting, the participants were taken through the various stages of eviction that may qualify for what conforms to an International guidelines including what should be done before, during and after evictions are carried out.
All these enlightenments and more were part of the research work conducted by the campaign department of Amnesty International Ghana which was presented during the 1-day workshop.
In addition, the forum also looked at various important elements of the guidelines which necessitated contributions from the various representatives of the CSOs present at the discussion table which includes the Human Rights Advocacy Centre, Human Rights Reporters Ghana, Slum Union Association and other individuals.
The Amnesty International Ghana boss disclosed that the ‘CSOs engagement on draft national eviction guideline’ forum would pave the way for the next level of negotiation which is likely to be a national dialogue on housing and eviction guidelines where various stakeholders from both government and non-governmental sectors would be engaged.
“And we believe that if this is adopted as a National Eviction Guideline, it would help us ensure that evictions are carried out within the provision of human rights and within the provisions of the laws of this country so that people would not be rendered homeless, that people are not pushed back into poverty because of eviction”, he emphasized.
For her part, Mrs. Elizabeth Adomako, the Vice Board Chair of Amnesty International Ghana sets the records straight on her outfit’s stands pertaining to evictions.
“We at Amnesty International are not against evictions, what we are against is the forced evictions where people are not given opportunity to understand the processes where those who carried out the evictions do not adhere to proper procedures before implementation which more or less affects the freedom and the fundamental rights of the evicted”.
She equally expressed optimism that the government would eventually adopt the proposed guideline whenever ready to settle the score on many social vices which had crept into the fabric of the society as a result of improper eviction processes which has also rendered many homeless and pushed others back into poverty.
Also sharing sentiments about the proposed draft of the National Eviction Guideline, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Advocacy Centre, Selasi Tsegah lauded the efforts of Amnesty International Ghana for the initiative.
While praying for government’s buy-in whenever the document is finally complete to help end human rights abuses in the country, she quickly pledges her outfit’s support in any way possible when called upon.
Source: Joseph Wemakor|Electionsinghana.com