On December 2 at World AIDS Day observations in Ghana, His Excellency Vice President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur presided over the launch of a new web-based system for reporting HIV-related discrimination. The system will support people living with HIV and other key populations in upholding their rights and fighting discrimination.
In Ghana, as in many other countries, HIV-related discrimination remains an unfortunate reality. People living with or affected by HIV experience unfair and unjust treatment that affect many areas of their lives, from employment to travel to health, and often act as a barrier to accessing potentially life-saving HIV prevention, treatment, and care services.
Using the new discrimination reporting system, individuals and organizations will now be able to report such discriminatory treatment directly to Ghana’s Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). Cases of HIV-related discrimination can be reported online at http://drsystem.chrajghana.com/ or via SMS. Following case submission, a CHRAJ point of contact receives the complaint and has ten days to respond to the person who submitted the complaint. While mediation is the preferred method of handling complaints, CHRAJ also has investigation and litigation authority as well.
The creation of the system reflects a growing appreciation that discrimination faced by people living with HIV and key populations — including men who have sex with men, sex workers, and people who inject drugs — undermines human rights and quality of life.
Managed by CHRAJ, the discrimination reporting system is the product of a partnership among CHRAJ, the Ghana AIDS Commission, and governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, with support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Health Policy Project. Reflecting this partnership, Vice President Amissah-Arthur was joined at the launch event by Commissioner of CHRAJ Lauretta Vivian Lamptey, Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission Dr. Angela El-Adas, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Gene A. Cretz, and other dignitaries.
In his remarks, Ambassador Cretz noted: “the U.S. government is proud to work with the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice and the Ghana AIDS Commission in building systems that ensure that those affected by HIV-related stigma and discrimination have legal recourse in seeking support in protection of their rights.”
The reporting system improves accountability by fostering greater collaboration among CHRAJ, the Ghana AIDS Commission, and civil society organizations. In addition to serving as a reporting mechanism, features of the system such as case tracking enable registered organizations to monitor the progress of complaints. This will not only help those who have experienced discrimination gain access to redress if their complaints are legally actionable; it will also help link them with relevant social services.
More broadly, capturing cases of discrimination will provide an important source of data on discrimination for policymakers and advocates alike, arming them with information to take further action to fight HIV-related discrimination in the future.