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"Support Implementation Of CCF-OSIWA Decriminalizing Vagrancy Laws/Advocacy Project” - CCF To CHRAJ


The Executive Director of the Crime Check Foundation (CCF), a crime prevention advocacy organization, Ibrahim Oppong Kwarteng has appealed to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Joseph Whittal to use his good office to support the implementation of CCF-OSIWA decriminalizing vagrancy laws & advocacy project in Ghana.


According to Mr. Kwarteng, the main objective of the project is to create an enabling environment for ‘vagrants’ (the homeless, street hawkers, head potters, vendors, truck pushers, market women, etc.) to know, claim and exercise their rights and responsibilities in Ghana.


Paying a courtesy call on the Commissioner of CHRAJ, Joseph Whittal in Accra, Mr. Kwarteng said “So our tour basically is to collaborate with you, CHRAJ, you are doing a lot in championing human rights issues and ensuring that issues that affect the rights of Ghanaians are highlighted. We also know that you seek redress for people whose rights have been abused"



"We are here to collaborate with you and let you know of this all-important project. We believe that adequate visibility and through organizations like you, it would make our work easier. It will push government and civil society actors to work, so basically, that is why we are here"

Mr. Kwarteng further explained that the project specifically seeks to increase public awareness on ‘vagrancy laws’, increase citizens’ capacity to monitor vagrancy laws and their effects on the homeless and other vulnerable persons, and institutionalize engagements and actions on effects of vagrancy laws in Ghana.


Touching on beneficiary districts, he noted that the intervention is being undertaken in twelve (12) Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies across three (3) regions of Ghana namely; Greater Accra - Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Ashaiman Municipal, Weija Gbawe; Central Region – Awutu Senya East, Awutu Senya, Effutu Municipal, and Mfantsiman Municipal; and Ashanti Region – Asokore Mampong, Kwadaso, Suame, and Ejisu Municipal.




The Executive Director of CCF, Ibrahim Kwarteng also said “I will urge you to organize periodic visits with the media to see what is happening in the prisons. I can tell you that the Kumasi remand block is very full. There are people there who have still not been taken to court. If CHRAJ comes in, you can tell the world what really is happening in our prisons”


On his part, the Commissioner of CHRAJ, Joseph Whittal indicated his outfit’s willingness to collaborate with CCF-OSIWA.


He said “This project is not new to us because the commission is a member of the network for Africa human rights institutions. What has eluded us is why countries like Ghana after independence, why we kept on allowing such type of legislation to remain on us and that is where the problem is and for us to sit here to talk about 1960 offenses that have criminalized poverty in a democracy which has put out key principles of the constitution, the preservation and the respect for human”



Mr. Whittal mentioned that previous attorney generals, CHRAJ have dealt with have seen the need to have those laws properly removed hence the push for the bill to be passed into law.


The Commissioner assured the CCF-OSIWA that his outfit will do its best to ensure the decriminalizing vagrancy laws & advocacy project doesn’t become a mere talk but something implemented.

The Executive Director of CCF, Ibrahim Kwarteng also said “I will urge you to organize periodic visits with the media to see what is happening in the prisons. I can tell you that the Kumasi remand block is very full. There are people there who have still not been taken to court. If CHRAJ comes in, you can tell the world what really is happening in our prisons”



Responding to CHRAJ paying periodic visits to prisons across the country, Mr. Whittal said “I must say Ghana actually at the Universal Periodic Review in 2017 designated CHRAJ at the Human Rights Council to do that”


“Human rights are not only about the right to food and other things. At least a fair trial requires that a person needs to be trialed as soon as possible and if the offense is not the type that warrants custodial sentence, then there should be alternates like community sentencing where I can payback for my transgression without having to be a hardened criminal”

He praised that the present Attorney General on some key legislations adding that CHRAJ is really proud of the works of Mr. Godfred Yeboah Dame.




“I can only encourage him and his colleagues and when it is before Parliament, they will encourage Parliament not to do the old ways but go and do their law-making and ensure that the laws are amended for the protection of the vulnerable”


Project Background

The penal codes of many African countries define a ‘vagrant’ as any person who does not have a fixed abode, a means of subsistence, and who does not practice a trade or profession.


Currently, about 22 African countries are said to have laws that penalize a vagrant, and equip the police with powers to enforce ‘vagrancy laws’.




Ghana is among these countries where due to poverty and ignorance, many poor and voiceless citizens constitute the greater proportion of victims of vagrancy laws.


Some of these laws relate to loitering, ‘head potting’, selling on the street, and other bye-laws enforced by the Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies in Ghana.


Under these laws, vagrants are arrested, harassed, fined, or imprisoned. This situation contributes to a high remand population, human rights violations, and increased poverty. On 4th December 2020, the African Court on Human and People’s Rights came to the rescue with a ruling against vagrancy laws.




Ruling against Vagrancy Laws

On 4th December 2020, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights delivered a landmark Advisory Opinion against ‘vagrancy laws’ (laws that appear to criminalize activities/actions of the homeless, and other poor and voiceless citizens as opposed to specific criminal acts).


The court held that ‘vagrancy laws’ are incompatible with African human rights instruments such as the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Children Rights Charter), and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women (Women’s Rights Protocol).


The CCF-OSIWA Decriminalizing Vagrancy Laws & Advocacy project gives effect to the ruling on vagrancy laws by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the vagrancy laws.




Ghana’s prisons are full, and the conditions are terrible. There is the need to ensure that citizens are aware of the MMDA bye-laws and MMDAs live up to their responsibilities to ensure more citizens do not end up in jail for ‘minor crimes’.


About CCF

The Crime Check Foundation (CCF) is a crime prevention advocacy organization that uses Life in Prison Documentaries to sensitize the public to the dangers of crime.


It's time with the Prisons Series which most of you are aware of has brought to the fore the congested nature of our 44 prisons and other infractions perpetrated by some members of the justice delivery chain.




Its Petty Offenders project has resulted in the release of over 700 inmates, while our Ex-convict Reintegration project has successfully reintegrated most of them into society.


Its Health Check, Street Charity, General Charity, and Educational Support Series have brought immense relief to the many who may have died or dropped out of school.

About OSIWA

Established in 2000, OSIWA 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.


Below is a video and some pictures:

Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith

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