Mr. Joseph Whittal, Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) says it is about time the government develops programmes and policies to alleviate the plights of Kayayei in the country.
He said it was not enough to shed state responsibility and look at Non-Governmental Organisations and Civil Society Organisations in terms of what they were doing for the Kakayei, adding that “It is the primary responsibility of the state to ensure their development.”
Mr Whittal made this observation during a health screening organized by the Commission in partnership with Nyaho Medical Centre and Uniliver for 300 Kayayei around Tema Station, as part of the events preceding the 30th anniversary celebration of the Commission.
He said the screening was targeted at sharing the celebration with their cherished partner in this regard, who were the Kayayei of Ghana and as representatives of the vulnerable community of Ghana.
He said the commission was more interested in what to do to bring the vulnerable in society up, and so most of their programmes were targeted at the vulnerable.
“So, you see us working with elderly women, albinos among others because they are the ones who are voiceless and need protection and the promotion of their rights,” he added.
The Commissioner indicated that they chose the Kayayei because the state of Ghana owed them a right to development. “We know they may have health issues, so they need the screening, after which the findings then become the basis to approach other people to see how to help support them fix whatever issue that are found.”
“I do not think they are on the streets because they like it, but they are a deficit of the development of this country.
“And looking at it majority of them are coming from a certain geo-political area of the country and it is about development.
“If development is extended there, they will have had employment, education and will have been exposed to the things they want, the reason why they are migrating to the south,” he said.
Mr Whittal said being on the streets comes with consequences which were undesirable, hence they were reaching out to these girls, to share their celebration with them because that was what was meaningful and not to sing praises of what the commission had done over the 30 years.
“We also want to let the state appreciate that there is a community out there that has fallen into the cracks, and it is our duty as a state to ensure that their issues take centre stage.”
Nana Amoah-Sekyi, Director, Public Education Department, CHRAJ said they were preceding the anniversary celebration with the health screening because health issues were human right issues, and it was their duty to promote and protect these rights.
She said everything about the human body was their priority because a healthy body was needed to be able to celebrate the anniversary.
“So, we are grateful to the Nyaho Medical Centre and the Uniliver team for partnering us to be able to do what is right for the people who work around us.
We also have in mind the SDGs which talks about leaving no one behind and so we do not want to leave anyone behind in our celebration.”
Other activities included a media launch to unveil the anniversary logo and brand ambassador, a webinar to catalogue some of the major research activities, then a climax with a high-level conference to commemorate the celebration.
Some of the Kayayei expressed appreciation to CHRAG for the screening, and appealed to other organisations to support them with shelter for them to leave the street and live healthy lives.