Crime Check Foundation (CCF) has been urged to expand its advocacy on decriminalizing vagrancy laws to other regions and districts in Ghana.
CCF, which has been applauded by the media for its advocacy, has since May 2020 been waging a relentless campaign against laws that make poverty appear to be a crime under a project, “Decriminalizing Vagrancy Laws and Advocacy” which is being funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
It comes at the back of a historic advisory opinion delivered by the African Courts on Human and People’s Rights on December 4 2020against vagrancy laws that criminalize the status of individuals as being poor, homeless etc. as against specific wrongful acts.
The project’s main goal is to create an enabling environment for ‘vagrants’ (the homeless, street hawkers, head porters, truck pushers, and market women, etc.) to know, claim and exercise their rights and responsibilities in Ghana.
At a press conference to brief the media on the progress of the project, journalists called for an extension of the advocacy and the inclusion of other Regions and districts for successful implementation.
The call, according to Adom TV’s Kwodwo Mensah Aborompah is necessary because it is going to ensure equity in society in the distribution of the National cake and access to justice, which will help to attain the Sustainable Development Goal 16.3, which hammers on Access to Justice for All by 2030. “The project is currently being implemented in only three Regions but do you consider expanding it to other Regions and Districts because through your advocacy, you are giving voice to the voiceless,” he said.
“This a very good initiative but the districts are few. If it is possible, extend it to other areas for them to benefit because it is promoting the rights of the vulnerable in society,” GBC’s Seth Eyiah also suggested.
Another journalist with UTV thanked OSIWA for supporting CCF but he hoped it continues the aid to enable the Foundation expand the project to other Regions.
Addressing the media on some findings CCF has observed in the project districts, the Executive Director of the Foundation, Ibrahim Oppong Kwarteng said it hopes to expand it reach with the assistance of OSIWA because poor people are being taken advantage of, fined outrageously without recourse to their deprivation and imprisoned for petty crimes they commit when they are unable to pay fines imposed on them.
This he said puts Ghana’s image as the beacon of Democracy and a champion of human rights in doubt.
Mr. Kwarteng however charged the media to support the advocacy on decriminalizing vagrancy laws.
About OSIWA: The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), established in 2000, is a grant-making and advocacy organization focused on equality, justice, democratic governance, human rights, and knowledge generation. It is part of the global network of Open Society Foundations spread across 37 countries around the world.
By Rudolph Nandi