About 57% of Ghanaians not aware of R2P concept

Police2A new research by the West Africa Network for Peace building (WANEP) shows that 57.10 per cent of Ghanaians are not aware of the Responsibility To Protect (R2P).

The research also shows that three out of 10 institutions with the responsibility to protect citizens were not aware of the R2P concept.

The R2P is an international security and human rights norm to address the international community’s failure to prevent and stop genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

The study dubbed “Assessing National and Regional Capacities for Implementing R2P in Ghana and West Africa”, is part of efforts to create awareness on R2P.

Mr Chukwuemeka Eze, the Executive Director, WANEP speaking at a workshop to present findings of the research to stakeholders in Accra on Friday, said protecting human rights is at the centre of R2P, stating that, R2P had raised international standards in the protection of human rights.

He observed that the two-tier research purports that the best way to protect is to prevent and since Ghana had not directly experienced R2P crimes, it is impressive to assess how well preventive mechanisms are working.

He observed that WANEP plays a key role in the promotion of early warning system to prevent conflicts in the sub-region.

The project, which is supported by the government of Denmark, is focused on the operationalization of R2P in Ghana, specifically to examine the state of readiness of various actors in Ghana and other ECOWAS member states in the implementation of R2P.

It was conducted from March to July 2015 in five regions, namely Ashanti, Greater Accra, Northern, Volta and Western.

About 120 participants from each region took part in the survey. Due to budgetary constraints, the research could not be undertaken in all 10 regions of the country.

The objective of the study include, identification of National Mechanisms for implementing R2P and the synergy that exists between the various structures of the state and ECOWAS for effective protection of citizens.

Others are to explore and examine the potential role or actual work of the National Focal Points for R2P in states in West Africa in regard to implementing R2P and creating awareness on the pillars and principles of R2P.

On knowledge of government agencies responsible for the protection of citizens, the study revealed that 84.7 per cent as against 8.80 per cent knew the agencies.

According to the study, 31.50 per cent of respondents indicated that they had experienced some form of human rights abuse as against 66.40, who said they had not, while 2.10 per cent said that they knew.

Of the kind of injustices experienced – discrimination on the basis of sex, political leanings and disabilities constituted 15.9 per cent, abuse of power by public officials and traditional rulers formed 16.50, harassment by security agencies was 17 per cent, whereas harassment from other citizens such as land guards formed 26.10 per cent.

In terms of outcome, majority of respondents indicated that “I did not bother to report it because I knew nothing good would come out of it”.

On government efforts to eliminate the drivers of conflict, 57.10 per cent of respondents stated that they think that government was doing enough to eliminate some form of the drivers of conflict such as ethnicity, natural resources, religion and politics.

However, 19.20 responded in the affirmative whiles 16.60 and 7.10 answered “I don’t know” or “It depends” respectively.

Dr Emmanuel Bombande, former Executive Director of WANEP and Lead Researcher for the project called for the translation of international norms and principles into realities at both the national and local levels.

He said there was the need for Ghana to have a national R2P policy with a clear implementation framework.

Citing the genocides in Rwandan and Kosovo, Dr Bombande said after the Second World War, 150 wars had been fought; leading to the deaths of over 80 million people worldwide.

Professor Martin Mennecke of the University of Southern Denmark and an R2P Expert, described the WANEP report as a stepping stone for future development.

He said the R2P had helped to bring into focus, mass atrocities committed globally.

Presenting the research background, rational, scope and methodology, Mr Vincent Azumah, WANEP Regional Coordinator, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation, said the research adopted both qualitative and quantitative research designs, purposive and snowball sampling technique; in addition, semi-structured interviews were also used.

Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director of the Institute of Democratic Governance said the report was very timely as Ghanaians would be heading towards the polls in about 15 months’ time.

Source: GNA

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