This year’s International Human Rights Day, which is under the theme; “Let’s Stand Up for Equality, Justice and Human Dignity”, is asking everyone to stand up for their civil, economic, political and cultural rights and those of others. The Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), thus, wishes to commend all Ghanaians who have stood up against inequality and injustice from fellow citizens, government and its agencies.
Despite the existence of a human rights centered Constitution, a plethora of specific human rights laws, and the fact that Ghana is a signatory to several international treaties and charters on human rights and other legislations geared towards protecting the rights of citizens, including the vulnerable and marginalized members of society; awareness and enforcement have been major challenges.
The United Nation’s (UN) 2017 Human Rights Report on Ghana listed the most significant human rights issues in the country, including excessive use of force by police resulting in death and injuries, rape by police, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, assault on and harassment of journalists, corruption in all branches of government, lack of accountability in cases of violence against women and children, including female genital mutilation/cutting, early and forced marriage, sexual exploitation of children, infanticide of children with disabilities, trafficking of persons, criminalization of same-sex sexual conduct, though rarely enforced, and exploitative child labour, including forced child labour. The report further indicated that although the government took steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed such abuses, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government, impunity remained a problem.
The findings from the UN report is very troubling and demands stricter enforcement of the laws and stiffer punishment from government and its accountability agencies who have been entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the rights of the citizens. Such proactive steps from the state and accountability agencies will serve as
deterrent to others to reduce or avert violations of the rights of citizens by institutions whose main responsibility is to protect the people as mandated by the 1992 Constitution.
CDD-Ghana would therefore, like to recommend that government takes immediate steps to address the following:
i. Repeal the laws on death penalty from the statute books to uphold the dignity of life
ii. Ensure justice for victims of police and military brutalities and prosecute, such security personnel of such heinous crime against the very people they are supposed to protect
iii. Address overcrowding and poor conditions of the prisons and police cells through adoption of non-custodial sentencing for minor offences.
CDD-Ghana would also like to encourage non-state actors, including human rights focus CSOs, advocates, professional associations and groups, and the media to support the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) by educating and sensitizing the public on their basic human rights and the need to play an active role in holding our leaders accountable to deliver on their mandate. Recent experiences in the country have proven that leaders respond quickly to lawful collective actions, which are taken in pursuit of a common goal for the betterment of society. It is, therefore, time for us all to come together and join forces to stand up for our rights and those of others, which is a civic duty, to advance equality, justice and human dignity for all Ghanaians.
For more information, please contact:
Efua Idan Atadja
Communication Specialist, CDD-Ghana