Amnesty International Ghana (AI Ghana), a human rights group, has begun a series of consultation procedures among civil society organizations to collect input into the design of a national eviction policy intended to serve as a guide for carrying out effective demolition operations throughout the country.
A forum organized by the group on the theme “Sustainable alternatives to forced evictions; a Human Rights Obligation of Local Government through Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs)” brought together for the first time representatives of some civil society organizations working in the human rights sector to discuss, share ideas, and propose solutions that would inform decisions leading to the formulation of the national eviction policy.
In his address to the audience, AI Ghana’s Campaign & Fundraising Coordinator, Samuel Agbotsey, said that the decision to host the workshop stemmed from a desktop survey performed by its organizations, which found serious gaps in how eviction activities are carried out within the country’s MMDAs.
He stated that the survey was carried out through data collection using an interview approach, with three out of five MMDAs in the country participating, namely the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly, and the Sekondi Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly, after which adequate information was sought.
“It is evident from the replies to the questions that each of the MMDAs is doing its own thing when it comes to the problem of eviction.”
“Also, relocation plans are poor, and there are no proper follow-ups to evaluate the effects of these evictions.”
“There is thus a need to engage stakeholders further on the findings of this research in order to inform work on national eviction policy/guidelines that are human rights friendly and fulfill international standards,” Samuel Agbotsey said.
In his opening remarks at the forum, Frank Doyi, Director of Amnesty International Ghana, bemoaned the rate at which government agencies across the country carry out forced evictions without following proper procedures in accordance with international human rights laws, including Ghana’s 1992 constitution.
“As a result, we believe it is critical that we have a guideline that provides a form of structure for our own authorities, notably our Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies, when it comes to evicting individuals from illegally inhabited properties.”
The attendees were guided through the many phases of eviction that may qualify for what adheres to International criteria, including what should be done before, during, and after evictions are carried out, during the meeting.
All of these revelations and more were part of the research work undertaken by Amnesty International Ghana’s campaign section, which was presented at the one-day session.
Furthermore, the forum examined various important elements of the guidelines, necessitating contributions from the various CSO representatives present at the discussion table, which included the Human Rights Advocacy Centre, Human Rights Reporters Ghana, Slum Union Association, and other individuals.
The executive director of Amnesty International Ghana stated that the ‘CSOs engagement on draft national eviction guidelines’ forum would pave the way for the next level of negotiation, which is likely to be a national dialogue on housing and eviction guidelines with various stakeholders from both the government and non-governmental sectors involved.
“And we believe that if this is adopted as a National Eviction Guideline, it will help us ensure that evictions are carried out in accordance with human rights and the laws of this country, so that people are not rendered homeless and are not pushed back into poverty as a result of eviction,” he emphasized.
Mrs. Elizabeth Adomako, Vice Board Chair of Amnesty International Ghana, for her part, clarifies her organization’s stance on evictions.
“We at Amnesty International are not against evictions; what we are against are forced evictions in which people are not given the opportunity to understand the processes and in which those carrying out the evictions do not adhere to proper procedures prior to implementation, which affects the freedom and fundamental rights of the evicted.”
She also expressed hope that the government would eventually adopt the proposed policy when it was ready to settle the score on many social vices that had crept into the fabric of society as a result of improper eviction processes, which had also rendered many homeless and pushed others back into poverty.
Selasi Tsegah, Executive Director of the Human Rights Advocacy Centre, also expressed support for the proposed draft of the National Eviction Guideline and praised Amnesty International Ghana for the initiative.
While hoping for the government’s buy-in when the document is ultimately finished to help halt human rights violations in the nation, she swiftly promises her organization’s assistance in any manner possible when called upon.