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15.09.2003 General News

CRARJ organises forum to celebrate anniversary

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Ho, Sept. 15, GNA - Mr Justice Dorgu, a Kpandu Circuit Court Judge on Monday called for the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to be trimmed to make its work more effective.

He said the "long and involving" mandates and functions which allows for any conceivable human rights issue to be brought before it leads to confusion and tags the Commission as "a jack of all trades and master of none".

Mr Dorgu, for eight years, Volta Regional Director of CHRAJ was presenting a critique of CHRAJ during a public forum on the achievements, prospects and challenges of the Commission on its 10th anniversary.

He said the wide mandate was not commensurate with the manpower and administrative resources, leaving it overwhelmed by cases. Mr Dorgu recommended that separate Commissions be created to cater for certain aspects of CHRAJ's work, or it should be expanded to meet the volume of work.

CHRAJ was established by Act 456 of Parliament to investigate complaints of fundamental human rights and freedoms, injustices, corruption, abuses of power and unfair treatments of any person by a public officer in the exercise of his official duties, investigate complaints concerning all public services and instances of alleged corruption, among others.

Mr Dorgu described CHRAJ's lack of jurisdiction to enforce its decisions on its own as its "Achilles heels" and called for a second look at that aspect of the Act.

He said there was the thought that there was an apparent dragging of feet of the courts in dealing with CHRAJ's decisions to give them legality.

Mr Dorgu said there was some confusion as to whether the courts were to open decided cases or review them for enforcement. He said the acts demands that decisions on embezzlements be reported to superior officers or the Attorney-General's Office was a waste of time.

He called for the clearing of grey points where sections of the act were in conflict with certain laws to make interpretation easier. Mr Dorgu said despite its problems CHRAJ could be said to have trailed the pitch of reconciliation and alternate dispute resolution long before they were institutionalised.

Mr Godwin Kpoble, Acting Volta Regional Director of CHRAJ said CHRAJ had been cited with similar institutions in South Africa and Uganda as the best national organisations set up to deal with human rights violations in Africa.

He said CHRAJ had confounded the skeptics that it was an appendage of government and had grown in a decade to be a reliable and fearless watch-dog on human rights issues.

Mr Kpoble lamented the high labour turnover among lawyers due to uncompetitive conditions of service but commended government for its goodwill to address the issue.

Mr George Honuvor, a Principal Investigator appealed to NGO's and media organisations to help CHRAJ educate the public on its functions and their rights.

Mr Ralph Avornyo, Acting Volta Regional Manager of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) urged all organisations to include publicity in their budgets to facilitate availability of funds for outreach programmes.

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