Mental health organisations in Ghana have called on the state to re-open the case of a 36-year old man sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for plotting to assassinate President John Dramani Mahama.
The organisations are also asking the state to provide the incarcerated man, Charles Antwi, with legal aid and critically examine his mental status, after re-opening the case.
Mr Badimak Peter Yaro, Executive Director of BasicNeeds-Ghana and Mr Humphrey Matey Kofie, Executive Secretary of Mental Health Society of Ghana (MEHSOG) made the call in a joint statement to the Ghana News Agency on Saturday.
“We recommend the state to re-open his [Charles Antwi] case, provide him with a defense team or legal aid and take him through mental status examination or evaluation before final judgment is passed,” the statement said.
The organisations acknowledged that the possession of a fire arm by Antwi was unlawful, and that, any attempt on the life of the president was a serious one and ought to be condemned.
It said: “There is no denial of the fact that an assassination attempt on a president is a serious offence with dire implications, particularly in nascent democracies like ours.”
“It is therefore utterly unacceptable for anybody to contemplate such an action.”
It noted that the motives of some unscrupulous individuals sometimes, such as this, could not be underestimated.
“It is against this background that MEHSOG and BasicNeeds consider as distressing and disheartening the adventures of Charles Antwi over the weekend, the act is unfortunate and must be condemned in uncertain terms,” the statement said.
However, the organisations said that from the “narrations, claims, and explanations from his [convict] mother,” it was most certain that Antwi required psychiatrist treatment and support.
“It is, therefore, our view that Antwi should not just be incarcerated but also be promptly supported to access mental health treatment services.
“After all, prisons are not just to punish but to help people reform, which should include regaining their health and good senses,” the organisations said.
They expressed readiness to work closely with the family, the law enforcement authorities and security agencies to support the rehabilitation of the convict if diagnosed of suffering from mental disorder.
BasicNeeds-Ghana is a non-government development advocacy organisation focusing on mental health and development, working on initiatives that directly and actively involve poor people with mental disorders and their families.
MEHSOG is a broad-based grassroots membership association of people with mental illness or epilepsy and their primary care-givers, who work to represent the needs and interests of people with mental illnesses or epilepsy.