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06.06.2005 General News

CHRAJ will pursue hotel investigations


Accra, June 6, GNA - The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) on Monday said it would go ahead with preliminary investigations into the propriety of the purchase of the hotel near President John Agyekum Kufuor's residence despite the call by the Minority in Parliament to the contrary.

The Commission, whose standing on the matter was questioned by the Minority in Parliament who claimed that CHRAJ was not properly constituted to conduct the investigations said, " we have to satisfy ourselves that the issues that have come up fall under our jurisdiction and then go ahead to evaluate it in a full-scale public enquiry."

Briefing the Ghana News Agency, on the position of the Minority concerning the issue, Ms. Anna Bossman, Acting CHRAJ Commissioner said the Minority in Parliament could, on their own constitute a non-partisan enquiry into the matter along that of the CHRAJ and still bring its conclusions to the leadership of the House for action.

"Our action does not stop the Minority from doing what they are supposed to do if they see wisdom in tacking the action," Ms. Bossman said.

She noted that the Minority is being political, misconceived and trying to mix up the Commission's operations with its composition. She argued that the position of the Minority that there is only one Commissioner is not true. "We still have Mr Benjamin K. Oppong, the other Commissioner, who is yet to start his leave prior to retirement. Besides, there are a lot of processes that cases go through before coming before the Commissioners."

"We have a machinery in place and we follow rules and procedures to the letter. I have a team and we work to bring issues to a head." Ms Bossman noted that it is the position of CHRAJ to establish that the issue at stake was not a private matter. "We want to be certain that the issue is not a private thing. Hence our decision to conduct a preliminary investigation that will give us reason to go ahead. Facts and evidence would warrant further action."

She said the Commission has already made contacts with the characters involved in the hotel saga and hope to do a good job. On the position that CHRAJ is not well resourced, Ms Bossman said sometimes government does not recognize that we are three institutions boxed into one - Human Rights Commission, Anti-Corruption Agency and the Ombudsman - and thus should be funded accordingly.

She said consequently, salaries for legal officers and investigators are not up to what they should receive. They however, get the right training and then sadly are plucked by other like institutions.

Ms. Bossman said "if the CHRAJ decides to go into any matter we would go into it, knowing very well our limited financial resources." She regretted that the media have often chosen to keep a blind eye on the "very important but not so high profile cases it is investigating and which do not come into the limelight."

Asked if the Commission has made representation, to the Presidency for new Commissioners, Ms Bossman said, " we have initiated the process."

She said they would be looking for people with integrity, local and international experience on the bench plus records of fairness in their career. "Experience in the area of human rights will be an advantage." She however, regretted that conditions of service at the Commission did not seem to attract the best to the place. June 06 05