Godfred Yeboah Dame
The Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, has called for more efforts towards the promotion of human rights issues in Ghana, to create a viable environment for the citizens.
According to him, Ghana has come far in the fight for the protection of human rights and freedoms but we ought not to be complacent but aspire to achieve more in order to make Ghana the most sought-after place to be in the entire world.
“There is a need to encourage responsible and effective human rights advocacy by Government, NGOs and CSOs hinged on the principle of reinforcing consensus, recognising limits and remembering that the goal is to enable individuals and societies to determine their own future in dignity and independence,” he said.
Mr. Dame was speaking at a public forum to mark the International Human Rights Day (2022) in Accra under the theme: “The State of Human Rights in Ghana: Progress, Challenges and the Way Forward.”
According to him, the credentials of Ghana as a strong democratic nation with a formidable reputation in the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms of all persons living here and with a highly independent and fearless judiciary ready to provide a remedy for abuses remain unshaken.
He described the state of human rights in Ghana as “Lots of ground gained with some more room for improvement,” indicating that Ghana’s human rights protection regime has undergone much transformation culminating in the most comprehensive system so far finding expression in Chapter 5 of the 1992 Constitution.
Mr. Dame indicated that Ghana is making giant strides in the protection of the rights of the vulnerable in society, stating that a draft Affirmative Action (AA) Bill is currently undergoing the process of stakeholder engagements led by the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection, as a prelude to its presentation to Cabinet for approval.
He said there has been an enhancement of the systems to combat human trafficking through the strengthening of legislation and institutions, improvement of the capacity to capture reliable data on the number of children trafficked in the country, the review, printing and dissemination of the Human Trafficking National Plan of Action (NPA) on the elimination of human trafficking, the establishment of focal units and desks in the Office of Attorney General and various law enforcement agencies.
The Attorney General noted that Ghana has also made positive strides in the promotion of social and economic rights by ensuring that all persons have access to equal education and opportunities.
“Respectfully, I consider the introduction of the Free SHS as a sure mechanism to bridge inequality, creating opportunity for all and closing the social gap. It is emblematic of the progress Ghana has made in human rights protection and the enjoyment of freedoms by her citizens,” Mr. Dame stated.
He also touched on measures taken to address mental health issues and disclosed that government is working on regulating the activities of prayer camps, traditional and faith-based healers who are collaborators for the promotion of mental health in the country by providing medication and other needed items for the care at these facilities.
Mr. Dame also revealed that the phenomenon of impunity, especially brute violence by the police, is on the decline with deliberate training of all police officers not to engage in acts of torture in the conduct of arrests, investigations, and interrogations.
The Attorney General also called for strengthening of the criminal justice system to ensure that criminals are deprived of their assets in order to reduce the impact of their actions and the inspiration they serve to others on the continent.
“I find it extremely unreasonable and unfair for so-called high-profile criminal cases involving the summary offences of fraud, willfully causing financial loss to the state and money laundering to drag on for years in our courts whilst similar cases filed against the perceived ordinary members of society are concluded within six months to one year,” he added.
Mr. Dame also touched on the existence of what described a “free, dynamic and ever-highly critical press,” indicating that media freedom, in his view, cannot under any circumstance, be said to be threatened in Ghana, notwithstanding certain isolated incidents of threats and attacks on the media that might have been responsible for Ghana to drop in her recent ranking on the World Press Freedom Index.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak