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13.07.2005 General News

Okudzeto urges Ghanaians to fight for their rights


Accra, July 13, GNA - Mr Sam Okudzeto, Chairman of International Advisory Committee of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, on Tuesday urged Ghanaians to fight for their fundamental human rights as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.

"Fundamental freedoms guarantee the individual a certain protective sphere to protect his/her right against interference from public authorities," he said. "These are personal freedoms of a member of the society (civil rights)," he said. These include right to life, prohibition of slavery, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the right to be recognised as a person, prohibition of arbitrary arrest, detention or exile, the right to a fair and public hearing by an impartial tribunal, the right to privacy and family life and the right to freedom of movement.

Others are the right to seek and enjoy asylum, the right to nationality, right to enter marriage and form a family, protection of property, right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the right to an effective remedy by competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights.

Mr Okudzeto, who is a former President of the Ghana Bar Association, said this at inaugural lectures initiated by the African Regional Office of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and Ghana Bar Association (GBA) to review the human rights situation in the country. The inaugural lectures seek to focus on human rights in Ghana, identify the trends and mould ways forward.

Mr Okudzeto said political rights protected a person's right to participate in the functions of an organised society. These include the right to vote in free elections, right to equal access to public service, right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. Mr Okudzeto, however, noted that 1992 Constitution failed to include certain fundamental civil and political rights guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Convention of the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Quoting from Article 21 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Article 25 of the ICCPR and Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, Mr Okudzeto condemned the current debate on People's Representative Amendment Bill, stressing that it was unnecessary. Mr Okudzeto said he supported the proposed Bill, which sought to give Ghanaians abroad voting rights.