Demolition CHRAJ condemns Sodom and Gomorrah demolition

A statement signed by the deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ, Joseph Whittal said the government should have adhered to International Human Right Charters in evicting residents of Old Fadama.

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Sodom and Gomorrah demolished play

Sodom and Gomorrah demolished

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The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) says government should have done further consultation before carrying out the recent demolition exercise at Sodom and Gomorrah.

Hundreds of homes were destroyed last Saturday as the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) undertook a demolition exercise rendering a lot of people homeless.

A statement signed by the deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ, Joseph Whittal said the government should have adhered to International Human Right Charters in evicting residents of Old Fadama.

“CHRAJ has noted with deep concern the recent demolition exercise undertaken by a combined team of security personnel under the auspices of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and would like to bring to the attention of the AMA and the general public the international human rights standards which should be observed in relation to forced evictions, in this context, demolition of dwelling places at Agbogbloshie, popularly called Sodom and Gomorrah, in Accra in pursuance of its human rights promotion and protection mandate,” the statement said.

It added: “Indeed, the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana (the Constitution) clearly articulates Ghana’s commitment to upholding human rights norms and laws and, specifically, article 40 of the Constitution expressly states that the Government of Ghana shall promote respect for international law, treaty obligations, as well as adhere to the principles, aims and ideals enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and any other international organization of which Ghana is a member.

“It is, therefore, incumbent on the Government of Ghana acting through its agency i.e the AMA in this case, to adhere to international human rights norms, principles and standards in relation to eviction of the people inhabiting the demolished structures at Agbogbloshie (Sodom and Gomorrah) who mostly were displaced internally due to the Komkomba and Nanumba conflict in the Northern region.

“In this regards, the Commission draws the AMA’s attention to its obligation as an agent of the State of Ghana to respect the human rights standards expounded, especially per General Comments 4 (1991) and 7 (1997) by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) as reinforced under the United Nations’ (UN) Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-Based Evictions and Displacement, and the Principles on Housing and Property Restitution for Internally Displaced Persons. These include respect, protection and fulfilment of all human rights, in this context, prohibition of forced, arbitrary evictions and demolition of houses; protection of everyone against being arbitrarily displaced from their homes or place of habitual residence; protection of the rights of children and women and other vulnerable groups such as the disabled, aged.

“The Commission holds the view that demolition exercises may be carried out under exceptional conditions. However, due regard must be given to the appropriate procedures for lawful evictions and full justification, encompassing the absence of reasonable alternatives, must be given mindful of the adverse human rights ramifications inherent in such an undertaking. Where it becomes necessary that demolition exercises are carried out, the procedures of forced evictions provided for as stated under the above mentioned international human rights legal and normative frameworks pertaining to the right to adequate housing (and the protection against forced eviction) must be taken into consideration.

“The Commission believes that eviction should not result in people being rendered homeless or detract from their basic rights to human existence, especially access to essential food, potable water, medical services and education for children displaced by the eviction, and the protection of persons exposed to greater risk of other human rights violations such as sexual assault.”

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