Three human rights groups have called for the arrest of the founder and leader of the International God’s Way Church, Bishop Daniel Obinim, for publicly flogging two members of his congregation.
The groups, Amnesty International, Who Will Hear My Cry Ghana (WWHMC) and Institute of Human Rights Studies (IHRS) say the Bishop violated the rights of the two congregants – a pregnant girl and her boyfriend – when he beat them in front of hundreds of church members.
Executive Director of WHMC, Dilys Sillah, says evidence the police would need to pursue their case is contained in a short video that has gone viral on numerous social media platforms.
“You could see that he was bold and felt that it was perfectly within his rights to violate these persons’ human rights and to humiliate them,” Dilys told Myjoyonline.com’s Austin Brakopowers.
The Bishop has come under public criticism following the viral video in which he is seen beating the two young members of his church with a belt.
it is not certain when the event took place, however, on the videotape that captured the flogging, Bishop Obinim kept chastising the teenage girl in Twi for fornicating and getting pregnant for his boyfriend.
The Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection has since lodged a formal complaint to the Accra Regional office of the Domestic Violence and Victims’ Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service for immediate action.
Speaking to Myjoyonline.com on the issue, Dilys said she expected the Bishop to support the teenagers instead of publicly humiliating them.
“We cannot live in a society that laws are just gathering dust in lawyers’ chambers. The laws are supposed to work in practice, and if the law says you are not allowed to physically assault somebody; you are not allowed to beat somebody; you are not allowed to violate somebody sexually, why should that law only be applied to certain people? It must be applied to everybody,” she said.
Amnesty International Ghana earlier called for Bishop Obinim’s immediate arrest.
“We think that Bishop Obinim is going beyond his jurisdiction at this time. This is a criminal offence [and] he should be arrested by the Police,” Director of Amnesty International Ghana, Lawrence Amesu, said.
The Institute of Human Rights Studies also released a statement Thursday in which it criticised police’s slow response to the issue.
IHRS Executive Director, Iris Naa Akwetey, said in the statement that if the Bishop’s action goes unpunished it would cause other people in authority to perpetrate similar human right violations.
Meanwhile, the Church has justified the public flogging, insisting that Bishop punished the two members to serve as a deterrent to other fornicating congregants.
Bishop Obinim is not new to controversies, with many criticising his spiritual healing methods.
In a similar video last year, the Bishop stepped on the belly of a pregnant woman in an apparent bid to rid the pregnancy of evil spirits.