The Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has called on the government to urgently conduct an inquiry into the alleged mismanagement plaguing the School Feeding Programme (SFP).
“Allegations are rife about the mismanagement, corruption and conflict of interest within the entity managing the SFP,” CHRAJ stated in a document submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council, as an input into the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Ghana, slated for May 5th and made available to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.
The Commission called on government to immediately extend to the SFP and the Capitation Grant scheme to cover every Ghanaian child and to translate its good intentions and commitment to human rights and the rule of law into action.
CHRAJ disclosed that there are over 1.3 million children of school going age who were not attending school either as a result of unavailability of schools within easy reach, or that parents were unable to bear the extra cost.
The UPR created in 2006 by the new UN Human Rights Council review will assess the human rights record of Ghana for the past four years, the nation's adherence to the Charter of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Commission also expressed concern about the inability of the government to fulfil the constitutional guarantee for basic education in the country.
CHRAJ explained that Government's introduction of the Capitation Grant Scheme in the 2005/2006 academic year is limited in scope as it did not cover all the cost of education at the basic level.
Others are observance and application of international humanitarian law and Human Rights Instruments to which Ghana is a party, voluntary pledges and commitments, especially those the nation undertook during a presentation for election to the Human Rights Council.
The CHRAJ document also urged the government to ensure the speedy passage of the Freedom of Information law to enable individuals, civil society organizations, and particularly, the media to access information from public officials more easily.
The Commission urged government to adequately resource key governance institutions, exhibit greater political will to fight corruption and also ensure ratification of international instruments and harmonize its provisions with domestic laws.
CHRAJ reiterated the call for decoupling of the position of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and suggested the appointment of an independent non partisan public prosecutor.
On human rights record in the country, the Commission said it was given a hard blow by the Supreme Court's ruling that the commission could not on its own motion investigate human rights violations, abuse of office and conflict of interest.
According to CHRAJ, the Supreme Court relied, in part, on the opinion of the Attorney General in that regard, “this unfortunate decision has the effect of dampening our proactive stance which has earned us much credibility and had indeed allow the commission to conduct its own investigations triggered by allegations in the media.
“CHRAJ has a critical role to play in promoting and protecting human rights and integrity, therefore it must not be inhibited in any way, particularly in doing investigation of human rights violations from credible sources including newspaper reports,” the reported stated.
The Commission also noted that Police brutalities seemed to be on the increase as case of death of suspects while in police custody was rising.
On the right to health care, the Commission noted that in spite of the introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme, the cost of health care was beyond the reach of many people.
Whilst some health institutions, including government hospitals were illegally detaining patients, especially nursing mothers and babies, for their inability to pay their medical bills.