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11.12.2007 General News

CHRAJ Condemns Suspects' Deaths

By Nyarko Hammond -

THE Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has condemned the mysterious deaths of some suspects while in police custody.

The Commission also condemned the seeming spate of mob 'injustice' when peaceful and generally law abiding citizens decide to take the law into their own hands and mete out barbaric, inhuman and cruel acts like stoning, burning, lynching and beating of suspected criminals.

'This flagrant abuse of fundamental freedoms, in particular, the right to life without recourse to the criminal justice system cannot be justified by any means,' the acting Commissioner of CHRAJ, Anna Bossman, said in Accra yesterday.

She was presenting highlights of the 2007 state of Human Rights in Ghana Report, as part of activities to commemorate this year’s International Human Rights Day which was observed globally yesterday.

The Day has been set aside by the United Nations to mark the historic event when the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948 as the first proclamation of universal human rights.

It is on the theme: Human Rights and Social Justice in Ghana @ 50, Have we come of age?

Ms Bossman cautioned that 'any and all forms of inhuman treatment violate the provisions of article 15 of the 1992 constitution' and called on citizens to hand over suspects to the police to let the legal process take its course.

The Commissioner, consequently, appealed to the Inspector-General of Police to as a matter of urgency to investigate all reports on suspected police brutality mob action, and to expedite necessary action against the perpetrators.

Touching on the theme, Ms Bossman said 'indeed we have surely come as long way in the promotion of human rights and the observance of civil liberties greater freedom of the press and I think that it would be fair to say that we can boast of the largest number of press houses, newspapers, radio stations in Africa'.

She was of the view that anyone who had been following the history of the country for at least the past 50 years chronicling our political and economic fortunes and misfortunes will no doubt agree that we have come a long way.

She noted that from the high ideals espoused by the first President Dr Kwame Nkrumah, who led Ghana to be the first country in the sub-Saharan Africa to achieve independence in 1957, Ghana’s route to independence became the model for the rest of the continent.

'Today, Ghana is one of the best performing economies in Africa with an ambition of becoming a middle income country within this decade,' she said.

Ms Bossman indicated that poverty has declined from 52 per cent in 1992 to 28 per cent in 2006 and said 'Ghana is likely to succeed in halving her poverty by 2015, making her the first country in Africa to achieve this goal.'

'We have indeed come a long way but there is still abject poverty, corruption, misery, lack of access to injustice, we are found wanting in human rights and social justice in every sector,' the Commissioner stressed.

On corruption, she lauded the media and said 'the role of the media in creating and maintaining a public life that discourages corruption in Ghana is very crucial'.

She said the media not only raised public awareness about the causes and consequences of corruption, it also helped to shape public hostility to corruption in government.

'The Commission notes that the media has done tremendous job in this direction,' Ms Bossman commended.

She noted that corruption has negative impact on human rights and it impedes the enjoyment of human rights.

Ms Bossman said corruption constrains democratic government by undermining the judicial process dismantling the rule of law, violating human rights and reducing the delivery of essential public services, especially to the poor.

She said reports as well as complaints sent to the Commission indicate, the perception that corruption was high and widespread and that, it so deeply penetrates the social and cultural fabric of the country.

She said 'the population appears generally, to be resigned to its existence. In other words, people are 'accepting' corruption as a way of life which is indeed disturbing and should be a source of concern to all of us'.

Ms Bossman said driven by this realisation, the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition of which CHRAJ is a member will present a statement on the state of corruption in the country this Thursday, December 13.

The Commission she said, on its part, refocused its strategy to combat corruption through intensive education and adoption of preventive measures apart from receiving and processing complaints and allegations of corruption, abuse of power, office and conflict of interest.

On the right to education, the Commission noted that corporal punishment in the form of canning which still exists in schools, is an unacceptable practice 'which we believe should be ceased immediately'.

Ms Bossman commended the government for implementing the school feeding programme and the Capitation Grant scheme.

She however called on the Ghana Education Service and the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports to ensure the fulfillment of the right to education for all , particularly in vulnerable populations in spite of the shortfalls recorded in the implementation of the Capitation Grant in some schools.

The Commissioner was of the view that, democracy and good governance cannot be achieved without the presence of the rule of law, freedom and social justice.

She said 'us government can be truly democratic or claim to be promoting good governance if that government fails to recognise the link between human rights and sustainable development, poverty alleviation and eradication'.

'And if it fails to understand the impact of corruption on human rights and indeed if that government does not recognise that the institution set up under the constitution to promote human rights ands thereby enforce the constitution must be empowered and fully supported to deliver'.

Touching on next year’s general election, Ms Bossman cautioned that people should make wise decisions that will determine the country’s direction in the promotion of rule of law and good governance, saying 'it is important for us to weight what the aspirants say and more importantly wizen up to what they dout say'.