Monday, May 4, 2009

Chaining of mental patients...CHRAJ WARNS PASTORS (NSEMPA, LEAD STORY)

By Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi

THE Ashanti Regional Office of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ has warned prayer camps to desist from chaining mental patients to trees.
A source at the CHRAJ told Graphic Nsempa that the practice, which was gaining roots in the region, was a complete abuse of the rights of the patients.
According to the source, sometimes, the pastors and their agents torture the patients, which adds to their unfortunate conditions.
“It is absolutely wrong for anyone to think that mental patients have no rights, “ the source said.
Painstaking investigations by Graphic Nsempa revealed that a number of prayer camps were engaged in the negative act.
Indeed, the prayer camps relied on chaining as the only means to tame violent mental patients.
Much as some of the pastors appreciated the pains the patients went through while chained to the trees, they still believed that leaving them on their own could be dangerous as they could harm innocent people.
The Ashanti Regional Office of CHRAJ last year rescued a former footballer of Kumasi Asante Kotoko who had a mental problem from a prayer camp.
The footballer (name withheld) was sent to the prayer camp by relatives to be exorcised of the spirit that the pastor at the prayer camp claimed was responsible for his predicament.
However, when his condition deteriorated a report was made to the CHRAJ who moved in to rescue him after protests from the church leaders.
The source said inspite of the warnings from the CHRAJ, the office continued to receive reports of the negative activities.
“We are following some of these cases to ensure that the correct thing was done, “ the source said.
It urged pastors to advise relatives of mental patients to send them to the mental hospitals for medical attention, and if possible complement the medical attention with prayers.
Some of the pastors, according to CHRAJ, blamed relatives of the patients for refusing to accept them after they received healing at the prayer camps.
The source stressed the need for people to feel free to report the abuses against the patients at the prayer camps to the CHRAJ to enable the office to take immediate action on them.
It said the passage of the mental health bill was crucial in addressing the challenges in mental health delivery.
The source, therefore, expressed the hope that action would be expedited on the passage of the bill.

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