Ghana observes International Human Rights Day

Although Ghana has made some progress in human rights promotion, the virtue does not cut across all sectors, the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) noted on Friday.

It said persons with disability, poor children and poor women are still exposed to high vulnerability in society.

Mr Richard Quayson, Deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ, presenting an overview of human rights promotion in Ghana for 2010 at this year’s United Nations International Human Rights Day in Accra, said the Commission was hoping that in the coming year, government and all stakeholders would show greater interest in human rights work and ensure that all persons were given equal opportunity to enjoy their rights.

This year’s celebration is under the theme: “Speak Up…Stop Discrimination.”

Mr Quayson urged government and other partners to ensure that the National Human Rights Action Plan was completed next year for immediate implementation.

He said the objective of the nationwide human rights monitoring exercise was to measure state compliance with its international human rights obligations.

The research covered education, health, children’s rights, harmful cultural practices, women’s rights, healing camps and extremely deprived communities.

Mr Quayson said 211 heads of basic public schools on the capitation grant said the introduction had brought some relief to basic schools.

However, 60 per cent of schools monitored continue to charge fees such as PTA levies and printing fees to support the running of schools.

Mr Quayson said a monitoring visit to 250 schools where focus group discussions held with 2,515 pupils on the issues of corporal punishment, bullying and harassment revealed that violations of GES Corporal Punishment Policy and bullying continued to occur in basic schools, leading to injuries to some pupils.

He reiterated the Commission’s call that all corporal punishment in schools be looked at again and steps taken to discontinue it all together.

On maternal and infant health, the Deputy Commissioner said although the various interventions had made significant difference, the current levels of maternal and infant deaths continued to be high.

He said the problem of inadequate health personnel and facilities, cultural barriers and attitudes of health workers and Ghanaians on the whole remained a significant stumbling block in the promotion of infant and
maternal health.

Touching on Prisons and Prison Camps, Mr Quayson said everywhere in the world, prisons were meant to be places to reform detainees to become useful to society.

However, considering the recidivism rate of 5.7 per cent in the country, one would wonder whether the detention centres were serving that purpose.

He said congestion was still a major problem in the prisons and ought to receive serious attention.

The British High Commissioner in Ghana, Dr Nicholas Westcott, stressed the importance of human rights across the globe and said a failure to respect such rights could impact not just on the politics but on a country’s economy, just as it impacted on its international reputation.

He said Ghana had made great strides in ensuring the respect of human rights, not least through the tremendous work that CHRAJ has done since it was set up in 1993.

Dr Westcott also said civil society organisations, churches and all faith groups had also played a vital role.

“Our two countries have been able to work together in international bodies to reinforce the respect for human rights everywhere.  Both at home and abroad, we must keep up this effort to meet new challenges as they emerge”, he added.

Source: GNA

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