Accra, May 12, GNA - The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has congratulated the Government and Ghanaians on the nation's election as one of the pioneering members of the new United Nations Human Rights Council.
"The CHRI welcomes Ghana's election as a confirmation of the international community's confidence in the nation's strides to ensure the respect for and the protection, promotion, and fulfilment of human rights domestically and internationally," Nana Oye Lithur, Coordinator of the Accra Office of the CHRI, said in a statement in Accra on Friday.
"Ghana's smooth transition to democratic rule, the establishment of an independent human rights Commission, peaceful handover of power between two political parties, the national reconciliation process and the submission to the African Peer Review Mechanism and the recent appointment of Justice Sophia
Akuffo as a judge of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, are but some of the nation's modest gains in the respect and protection of human rights."
The CHRI noted, however, that Ghana was still beset with instances of human rights violations that challenged its international image and membership of such an august body of States.
"The culture of human rights is yet to be fully imbedded in the citizenry as the knowledge of basic human rights protected by the 1992 Constitution is still low among the general public.
"The resort to instant justice against suspected criminal offenders by the public is a worrying phenomenon. The low level of public confidence in the Police and other State security institutions and the frequent cases of Police brutality; call for efforts by the State and citizenry in improving police - public relations.
"Access to justice for the poor still remains elusive. The apparent non-justifiability of socio-economic rights in Ghana poses a challenge to demanding the fulfilment of these rights by the State in accordance with international human rights standards."
The CHRI therefore called upon the State and the public not to be complacent about Ghana's election to the new Human Rights Council.
"This historic election should be seen as a wake-up call to improve upon Ghana's human rights record to give real meaning and substance to the high level of confidence reposed in Ghana by the international community as shown by this overwhelming vote.
"The CHRI expects that Ghana will also take a lead role in demanding adherence to human rights standards by other member States of the UN during her tenure on the Council."
General Assembly Resolution 60/251 of March 2006 created the new Human Rights Council to replace the Commission on Human Rights under the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The Commission on Human Rights had been criticised for allowing membership of States such as Libya, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe that hid behind the Commission to avoid scrutiny and condemnation. The Commission was also criticised for being bureaucratic, excessively political and ineffectual.
The UN Secretary-General, Busumuru Kofi Annan in March 2005 called for the abolition of the Commission and the establishment of a much smaller and more effective Human Rights Council.
This Council, he said, would meet all year round and its membership would be restricted to countries that would "abide by the highest human rights standards".