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General News of Saturday, 25 March 2017

Source: dailygraphiconline.com

‘Civil Society Organisations must demand accountability’- CHRAJ director

Civil society and non-governmental-organisations have been encouraged to demand accountability from various governmental institutions. That, the Director in charge of Human Rights at the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Dr Isaac Annan, said, would ensure good governance.

Dr Annan said this at the opening ceremony of a two-day workshop organised by Ghana Human Rights, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) Forum in partnership with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) -info and KASA Ghana in Accra last Monday.

The human rights workshop which was funded by Danida brought together civil society organisations (CSOs), NGOs, governmental organisations and United Nations’ representatives.

Accountability

Dr Annan noted that civil society and non-governmental organisations should not demand accountability from politicians because they would rule for a while, but institutions were stable and were the ones to be held accountable.

“In human rights, the state has a duty and when I talk about state, I am not referring to governance. Even though there is a government policy that has to be articulated or implemented, it is about how the government or civil societies behave or demand their rights. Therefore, if civil societies do not demand their rights then it becomes like a ‘political football’ where political parties handle their rights anyhow,” he stressed.

Dr Annan expressed the need for civil societies to demand accountability so that institutions could work effectively to ensure their rights were implemented.

“When we talk about good governance, then we need to get active, articulated, and well informed civil societies, because they act as a pressure group on the government,” he mentioned.

He noted that the government’s free education ‘is not a favour, but a human right which is in the constitution. Therefore, individuals’ rights should not be trampled upon on the basis of politics”.

“Right to education opens the door to all rights, therefore, the populace needs to be educated in order to know their rights,” he said.

Empowerment

The Deputy Minister designate for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs Gifty Twum-Ampofo, reiterated that CSOs should be more vibrant by ensuring that human rights policies were not only implemented but enforced, since civil societies were not voted for, but politicians were.

“Civil societies engage more with the populace and say things the way it is unlike politicians who are affiliated with one political party or the other. Therefore as government institutions, we will engage more with civil societies in order to get the right things done,” she stated.

Commenting on gender equality, she said a lot had been achieved but there was more room for improvement, therefore, the ministry will do its best to advocate and empower more women to take up leadership roles.

Universal Periodic Review

The Executive Director of Perfector of Sentiments (POS) Foundation, Mr Jonathan Osei Owusu, explained that the human rights workshop brought together the CSOs to write a report on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for the UN council.

“Since the inception of the UPR in 2006, Ghana has fully participated in the exercise both in the year 2008 and 2012. The involvement of CSOs in the UPR is to enhance collective participation and development.

“It is imperative to mention that though the government is committed to the promotion of human rights in the country, CSOs and the media which are regarded as the fourth arm of government over the past decade have not been actively and closely engaged by the government,” he explained.

He stressed that after the reports, there were some recommendations which the government had not yet fulfilled.

Mr Owusu who is also the Vice Chairman of Human Right NGOs Forum, noted that there was the need to educate citizens on their rights and urged CSOs to play a key role of ensuring that this was achieved.