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14.11.2005 General News

Stop running down our image - Kufuor

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Accra, Nov. 14, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Monday asked all citizens to value the merits of being a Ghanaian and desist from running down the image of the country saying the deliberate attempt by a few to undervalue Ghanaians was unfortunate.

He cautioned: "A people who do not know who they are or what they are worth stands the risk of losing their heritage or exchanging it for a song. Let us not for the difficulties of today, which are transient and will be overcome, abandon the land of our birth or throw away our heritage."

This was contained in his speech read by the Foreign Minister, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the opening a three-day conference in Accra on: "The Role of National Human Rights Institutions and Ombudsman in the Fight Against Corruption."

The President said unwittingly, others had been caught up in the process of undervaluing and were beginning to doubt the worth of the Ghanaian.

More than 70 participants are attending the conference being hosted by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) with sponsorship from the Danish Government.

The conference forms part of a series of programmes of assistance initiated in 2003 to support CHRAJ in the discharge of its mandate, especially in the areas of anti-corruption, information and communication technology and capacity building.

Human rights practitioners, and anti-corruption agencies drawn from Denmark, South Africa and Tanzania are participating in the conference to deliberate on practical strategies for national human rights institutions to employ in the promotion and protection of human rights and combating corruption.

It would also provide a forum for sharing knowledge and experiences and foster closer collaboration between CHRAJ and its local and international partners as well as to showcase the Commission's new case management system.

President Kufuor said various interventions and initiatives under his administration like the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law, establishment of the Office of Accountability, and other laws that had been passed were all moves to improve the legal framework to fight corruption.

He said CHRAJ had been assisted by the Government given the little resources at its disposal and had been able to carry out its three-pronged mandate admirably.

President Kufuor said the Government was making the necessary efforts to redress the situation of understaffing so that CHRAJ could recruit and retain qualified staff to help in the collective fight against corruption.

Reaffirming the Government's policy of zero tolerance for corruption, President Kufuor called on all members of the political class, public service, civil society and the entire nation to collectively fight to win the war against corruption.

Ms Anna Bossman, Acting Commissioner, CHRAJ, commended the Royal Danish Government for supporting the Commission's programmes and particularly helping Ghana to fight corruption.

The Chief Justice, Mr George Kingsley Acquah, who chaired the function, called for conscious efforts at enforcing compliance of various laws on corruption in the statutes books to win the fight. "The lack of an adequate legal and regulatory framework undercuts accountability and fosters favouritism and abuse of discretion. Weak courts and ineffective politically motivated prosecutors make it difficult to hold the corrupt accountable through the justice system," Mr Acquah said.

He also urged all to do away with the culture of "personalism and familism", which were so endemic in the Ghanaian society and serving as a breeding ground for corrupt practices.

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