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Politics of Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Source: GNA

Commenting on Woyome's case without report violates his rights- CHRAJ

Ms Lauretta Lamptey, Commissioner, Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), on Wednesday said the Commission was initially not keen on commenting on the Woyome judgement debt saga when it came up because it would have violated the principle of not guilty before proven.

She said the Commission could not initially do anything or comment on the case because it did not have any concrete report based on which it could draw any conclusions concerning the case.

Ms Lamptey, speaking at a forum organised by the Editors' Forum, Ghana (EFG), appealed to Ghanaians not to always read negative meanings into the activities of the Commission when it was silent on some issues as its operations required investigations before making inputs on issues.

EFG is made up of editors, senior journalists and media educators and is affiliated to the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA).

She said the Commission received a lot of backlash from Ghanaians and civil societies due to its silence on the case when it broke out initially because people thought it was intentionally refusing to wade into the debate for political reasons.

Ms Lamptey said upon request from Parliament, the Commission had begun a preliminary investigation into circumstances leading to the payment of some GH?51 million by the State to Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome, a businessman.

She called on Ghanaians and civil societies not to blame CHRAJ for delays in the passage of the Right to Information Bill into law as it had adequately played its part in ensuring that the Bill was passed.

Ms Lamptey noted that since the Commission was established 20 years ago, it had worked hard to ensure that rights of people were not abused as it had been at the forefront on issues pertaining to human rights in the country.

She charged the media to be circumspect in their reportage and present issues from all angles thereby allowing the public to be the judge.

Ms Lamptey urged the media to respect the rights of people by desisting from making publications without basis as had become prevalent in the country.

She urged the media to put in place the needed mechanisms to "regulate their activities in order to avoid crossing the line, being sensational and provocative".

“I would urge the media to be like the mirror by projecting and reflecting only what it sees,” she added.

Ms Lamptey expressed appreciation to the media for giving CHRAJ the platform to educate people on their human rights.

Ms Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, Chairperson, EFG, noted that issues of human rights formed crucial part of the activities of the media in the country hence the need for more education on issues by the CHRAJ Commissioner.

She called on the media to occasionally take stock of their performances and seek guidance where necessary and correct shortcomings.

Ms Yeboah-Afari noted that the media sometimes in discharging their duties, infringed on people’s rights to the extent of sometimes supporting illegalities.

“It has become a common practice for the media to publish photographs of some alleged crime suspects who have been arrested by the police and in some case; the faces of these suspects are bruised.”**