MEHSOG urges inclusion of stabilised mental persons in elections

 By
Iddi Yire, GNA

Accra, Sept. 2, GNA – The Mental Health
Society of Ghana (MEHSOG), an NGO has urged all and sundry to support and
promote the participation and inclusion of all stabilised persons with mental
illness in the December 7 general election.

Mr Humphrey Kofie, the Executive Secretary
of MEHSOG, said a number of international and domestic enactments provide that
persons with mental illnesses or psychosocial disability participate and
exercise their political rights which include the right to vote.

Speaking at a Community Durbar at Nima in
Accra on Thursday, Mr Kofie cited that section 29 of the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disability provides that State Parties
guarantee that persons with disabilities participate in political and public life.

Sections 54 and 55 of the Mental Health Law
also provides the fundamental human rights and freedoms including participation
in civil and political life.

He said Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution
of Ghana also provides for the rights and freedom of person above 18 years and
of sound mind to vote.

“Unfortunately, it is this later provision,
which many people including presiding officers, polling agents and members of
the society misconstrue to discriminate and excluded stabilised people with
mental illnesses or psychosocial disability from the electoral process,” he
said.

“The question is who does the Constitution
describe or define as unsound mind? Is it you and I who sometimes hold our
keys, pens and still looking for it?

“Are they those people who keep their
valuable items somewhere and cannot remember? Or are those vagrants who are
nude on our streets?” he quizzed.

Mr Kofie said MEHSOG would appreciate
collaboration with pro bono lawyer or civil society organisation to invoke
article 130 of the 1992 Constitution, which is the original jurisdiction of the
Supreme Court, to seek a true and proper interpretation of “Sound Mind” as
provided for in Article 42 (right to vote) to bring the controversy and
misinterpretation of this provisions to rest.

The durbar was organised by MEHSOG in
collaboration with the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisation in a project
titled Inclusion matters: Access and Participation of PWDs in election 2016”.

The project is being supported by STAR Ghana
with funding from the United Kingdom Department for International Development.

The objective of the project is to promote
access to voting materials and voting centres for PWDs, ensure effective
participation of PWDs in the electoral process and to increase awareness on the
electoral process among PWDs.

It also seeks to promote access to
information on the electoral process for all PWDs, effectively engage
stakeholders including political parties and the Electoral Commission on key
disability issues.

MEHSOG is a broad-based grassroots
membership association of mental health and epilepsy service users and their
primary care-givers with members across Ghana. It has a membership of over
26,000 across the country.

Madam Rita Kyeremaa Kusi, the Executive
Director, Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations called on all and sundry
to support PWDs to enable them exercise their franchise on December 7.

Mr Sulemana Bayensi, Principla Civic
Education Officer of the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) said at
the centre of every fundamental human rights is the dignity of every person.

He noted that the contributions of every
Ghanaian including the PWDs is essential in nation building.

Mr Adam Siddique Zagoon, Senior Civic
Education Officer of the NCCE, said measures have been put in place to ensure
that all polling stations throughout the country are accessible to PWDs.

He said for the visually impede, the
Commission would be providing tactile ballot papers for them to cast their
votes on December 7.

Chief Alhaji Baba Issah, MEHSOG Board
Chairman called for the inculcation of the spirit of volunteerism in the
nation’s youth.

GNA

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