Civil Society Groups In Ghana Urge Government To Pass Int’ Criminal Court Bill Into Law
More than 65 civil society organizations working on human rights in Ghana have urged the government to pass the International Criminal Court Bill 2016 into law to give effect to the implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Ghana ratified the Rome Statute in 1999, the treaty that established the court, ICC, in the Hague, Netherlands, and drafted the Ghana International Criminal Court Bill in 2016 but are yet to pass the Bill into law to domesticate the Rome Statute, 19 years after ratifying it.
The civil society groups made the call in a communiqué they issued after attending a 3-day CSOs strategic workshop in Accra to draw up an implementation plan and an action strategy for the implementation of the recommendations the UN Human Rights Council made to Ghana during the third review of Ghana’s human rights record under the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism in November 2017.
During the third UPR review in 2017, Latvia and Estonia recommended to Ghana, which Ghana accepted, to domesticate the Rome Statute. This followed similar recommendations made to Ghana in 2012 when Ghana’s human rights record came up for review at the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Research and education think tank, Africa Center for International Law and Accountability (ACILA) had also urged the Akufo-Addo administration to prioritize the passage of the International Criminal Court Bill after filing a submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council in March 2017 prior to Ghana’s appearance at the Human Rights Council in November 2017.
In a statement, ACILA executive director, Mr. William Nyarko had explained when passed into law, Ghana’s ICC law will provide the legal framework for the courts in Ghana to prosecute persons who commit crimes tried by the ICC as well as enable the ICC to prosecute cases that Ghanaian courts are unable to prosecute.
The call by the CSOs is the latest push by CSOs advocating passage of the ICC Bill. The communiqué, which was signed by Mr. Jonathan Osei Owusu, Convener of UPR CSOs in Ghana and Executive Director of the POS Foundation, also called on government to set up an Independent Police Complaint Commission (IPCC) in order to ensure professionalism in the police service; improveaccess to justice; abolish the death penalty; introduce an alternative sentencing Policy [Non-Custodial Sentencing Law] while improving detention conditions and pass the Right To Information (RTI) Bill into law and implement it, among other things. Below is the full statement by the CSOs.
After a 3-day CSOs strategic workshop, Civil Society in Ghana have commended and congratulated the government of Ghana for accepting 214 recommendations and noting 27 out of the 241 recommendations made by the recommending States during the 3rd review of Ghana’s human rights record which took place in November 2017 at the UN Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Civil Society have, however, admonished the Government of Ghana to refrain from the attitudinal cycle of accepting a lot of recommendations but paying very little or no attention to implementation as was the case with the first and second reviews. So far, Ghana’s human rights record has been reviewed three times by the United Nations Human Rights Council under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism.
After the first review which was done in May 2008, 56 recommendations were received and after the second review in October 2012, 150 recommendations were received, making a total of 206 recommendations received. Out of these, Ghana accepted 167 recommendations and Noted 39 recommendations; unfortunately very few of these saw effective implementation.
The UPR mechanism encourages the active involvement of civil society in the implementation of UPR recommendations. The success of Civil Society Organisations’ (CSO) engagement in the UPR ultimately depends on their ability to monitor and support the implementation of the UPR outcomes in cooperation with the Government of Ghana and other stakeholders.
Ghanaian human rights-based civil society representatives (see annex 1) met at a workshop for three days to develop a CSO action strategy and a suggested implementation plan. The workshop, which was organised by the POS Foundation (Secretariat of the Ghana Human Rights NGO’s Forum), and UPR Info Africa Kenya, was funded by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and UPR Info.
At the conclusion of the three-day workshop, and based on the analysis of all the recommendations received by Ghana in the third cycle, participating Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have agreed to advocate for and urge Ghana to prioritise the following:
- Set up an Independent Police Complaint Commission (IPCC) in order to ensure professionalism in the police service, among other things, the improvement of access to justice
- Abolish the death penalty
- Introduce and alternative sentencing Policy [Non Custodial Sentencing Law] while improving detention conditions
- Pass the Right To Information (RTI) Bill into law and implement it
- Fully implement the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP)
- Using Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index 2017 score as a baseline, reduce corruption and improve Ghana's score to 50 percentage points by 2022
- Ratify all the conventions of the International Labour Office (ILO) to which it is a signatory, including C183 - Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (No. 183) and domesticate the conventions with domestic legislation
- Pass the Legislative Instrument (LI) on the Mental Health Act, 2012 (Act 846) to ensure its effective implementation and the adoption of adolescent sexual health policy
- Ensure a financially sustainable National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) that can cover immunization and mental health costs
- Pass the Affirmative Action Bill into law
- Develop and enforce a juvenile justice system in line with the recommendations made by the Constitution Review Commission
- End Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Ghana and bring perpetrators to justice
- Eliminate all forms of inhumane and discriminatory cultural practices prohibited by the 1992 Constitution
- Educate and sensitise society on the rights of all persons including LGBTI people to Equal Protection of the law and Non-Discrimination
- Provide adequate resources for human trafficking shelters and ensure victims of human trafficking are provided with psychological services and are rehabilitated
- Amend The Persons with Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715) in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability and implement a national employment equity policy to effectuate the law
- Pass the Ghana International Criminal Court Bill 2016 into law to give effect to the implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Ghana
- Formalise and institutionalise small-scale mining with the requisite rules and regulations by 2019 with focus on human rights
- Eradicate child labour in the mining sector
- Integrate Human Rights into the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and develop a joint multi-stakeholder framework with actors from state and non-state organizations to track the implementation of the SDGs and Human Rights
With this Declaration, the signatories commit to continue working on and supporting the Government in the implementation of UPR recommendations throughout the third UPR cycle, together with all relevant stakeholders, and to meet regularly to provide updates on the status of their UPR activities. This is to ensure that the repetitive nature of recommendations resurfacing at every UPR cycle is brought to the barest minimum whilst upholding the rights of Ghanaians.
Accra, Ghana, 15th March, 2018
Jonathan Osei Owusu
(Executive Director POS Foundation)
Convener UPR CSOs Ghana
List of participating Civil Society Organisations
- Association of People for Practical Life Education (Apple)
- Brotherly Life Foundation Ghana
- Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana
- Action For Progress (AFP)
- Gender Centre For Empowering Development
- Foundation for Future Christian Workers International (FFCWI)
- African Equality Center (AEC)
- Alliance For Dynamics Initiative
- Center for Popular Education and Human Rights, Ghana (CEPEHRG)
- Sisters of the Heart (SOH)
- AI/ GNGO’S FORUM
- GHR NGO’S Forum
- Divine Group International (DGI) Foundation
- Hope Care Foundation (HCF)
- Defense Against AIDS, Poverty and Underdevelopment (DAAPU)
- Reformation of Hope Foundation (RHF)
- Center for Employment of Persons with Disability (CEEP)
- Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Africa Office
- POS Foundation
- Concern Health
- Challenging Heights
- Society and Youth Development
- Media Center for Social Justice
- Ghana Coalition of NGO’s in Health
- The Lost Talent Foundation-Ghana
- CAFAF- Ghana 360
- Women In The Lord’s Vineyard (WITLOV)
- Labour Policy International (LPI)
- KASA Initiative
- Strategic Youth Network for Development (SYND)
- Ghana Alliance for Clean Code Stores and Fuel (GACC)
- Mind Freedom Ghana
- Patients Friend Foundation
- Africa Centre for International Law and Accountability
- Social Support Foundation
- Resource Link Foundation
- Human Rights Advocacy Center
- Love Foundation
- Fountain of Hope
- ASM Africa Network (ASMAN)
- UN Youth
- CSO’s platform on SDGs
- One Love Initiative Foundation
- LHL NGO
- Rural Aids Foundation
- Global Neighborhood Healthcare Development Organisation (GLONEHDO)
- Learning Helping Living
- Women Initiative for Self Empowerment [WISE]
- Center for Employment for Persons with Disability [CEPD]
- Basic Needs Ghana
- Africa Center for International Law and Accountability [ACILA]
- Equality for All Foundation
- Pillar of Change for the Rights of Women and Children (PILLAWOCHI)
- Legal Resources Center (LRC)
- Community Outreach Alliance ( COA)
- Take Care Africa Foundation (TCAF)
- Volta Network Foundation
- Bridge of Hope Foundation
- Women and Children Network Development Foundation (WCNDF)
- Center for Democratic Development [CDD]