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Ghana urged to implement promulgated laws to protect human rights

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Jeroen Verheul, Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana

Mr Jeroen Verheul, the Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, says Ghana needed to ensure that laws and instruments ratified are implemented to safeguard, protect and promote human rights in the country.

He said Ghana had come far on human rights after ratifying several international human rights instruments and protocols and also promulgated local laws to safeguard fundamental human rights.

Mr Verheul made the observation at the opening of a two-day workshop for the validation and submission of Civil Society Organisations (CSO’s) shadow reports under the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Mechanism-Ghana 4th cycle.

The workshop organized by the POS Foundation with funding from the Netherlands Embassy, Ghana was to review, finalize and validate shadow reports developed by CSOs operating under the various Human Rights thematic areas and to submit these reports to the UN HRC for the upcoming UPR session this month.

Mr Verheul noted that “over the previous UPR cycles, the number of recommendations accepted by Ghana has increased. From the statistics, Ghana accepted 123 recommendations in 2012 and 212 recommendations in 2017.

While acceptance of the recommendations is important, implementation of same constitutes a prerequisite for successful results in tangible human rights improvement in the country.”

He said some of the recommendations were almost repetitive over the various cycles since 2008, and this was again due to non-implementation of accepted recommendations, adding that a focus on implementation would avoid this situation.

“Some areas including the living conditions and overcrowding in prisons, respect for the rights of minority groups, safety of journalist, women representation in politics and issues of child labour, still require significant attention,” he added.

Mr Verheul commended government for the respect it attached to human rights and urged participants to re-examine earlier reports and compliance with recommendations issued to Ghana in the prior cycles to ensure that the recommendations for the upcoming cycle were better articulated, more specific and implementable.

Madam Anne-Claire Dufay, the UNICEF country Representative, said even though Ghana had made significant progress in promoting human rights, inclusion and equality for all, much more still needed to be done.

She urged government to intensify efforts to end all forms of gender-based violence against women and children, and harmful practices such as child marriage, and ensure the alignment of several existing laws with international conventions that the country acceded to, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill.

Madam Dufay mentioned that the UN was currently compiling inputs into the UPR, which would serve as a useful reference point, in addition to the CSO reports as Ghana seeks to build on its record and stay strong on the Continent in relation to human rights.

Prof. Takyiwaa Manuh of the University of Ghana said the UPR process was an important factor for change and for human rights to be advanced there was the need for a whole societal approach because it affects all spears of life.

“Human rights issues affect all and as such should be the concern of all, especially now that it is being violated all the time.”

She said, “the executive arm of government, members of parliament and the judiciary must be interested and playing their respective roles in order to protect the human rights of all in order to improve the human rights records of the country.”

Mr Johnathan Osei Owusu, the Executive Director, POS Foundation, said the validation workshop as part of the preparatory phase towards the UPR, offered CSO’S the opportunity to ensure that developed shadow reports were duly vetted and fact checked before they were submitted to the UN HRC for attention.

“This also helps improve the accuracy of the shadow reports and reflect the actual situation on the ground to inform recommendations by peer countries to Ghana in the up-coming UPR 4th cycle.”

He said the UPR must be seen as a process and not just an event that occurred every four years, and required the commitment of all stakeholders; government, private sector and CSOs.

“Immediately after recommendations, until the next cycle is due, stakeholders, including CSOs need to work with government to develop benchmarks and

indicators that will be integrated in a Human Rights Action Plan to use same to monitor the implementation of the recommendations.”

Mr Osei Owusu said it was important for CSO’s to position themselves well in drafting the report, saying that this year’s report would focus on 10 thematic areas, with data and statistics attached to be able to present a better report.

“We are going to prepare our reports based on previous recommendations in order to put government on its toes to implement and enforce any laws that come out of this.”

The UPR is a State-driven process which reviews the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States once every five years, providing an opportunity for States to demonstrate what actions they had taken to improve their human rights situation under the same rules and supervision.

Source: GNA

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