Godfred Yeboah Dame
SOME DELEGATES of the United Nations have commended Ghana for its policies and programmes aimed at ensuring the promotion of human rights and freedoms in the country.
Chief among the issues was government’s implementation of the Free Senior High School programme which aimed at eliminating the element of cost as a barrier to education.
Some of the delegates also praised Ghana for the continued implementation of the School Feeding Programme as well as the passing into law, the Right to Information Bill which seeks to make information available to the public as part of measures to fight corruption and keep public institutions on their toes.
The delegates gave the commendations at the 42nd Session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Head Quarters in Geneve, Switzerland which, happened to be Ghana’s 4th cycle.
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 have taken to improve the human rights situation in their countries under the same rules and supervision.
Some of the delegates, however, raised issues regarding certain practices which are harmful to fundamental human rights and recommended that actions are taken to eliminates those barriers on human rights and freedom.
The most prominent among them is the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Right and Ghanaian Family Values Bill (LGBTQI+ Bill) before Parliament which seeks to bar all activities of gays, lesbians and others in Ghana.
Other recommendations included intensifying the fight on violence against women and children, ending child marriages, removing barriers to the education of girls and women, the protection of women and girls from all harmful sexual violence including female genital mutilation, the existence of witches’ camps, ensuring the safety of journalists as well as the protection of vulnerable persons in the country.
The Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, who led Ghana’s delegation to the session, highlighted the gains made by Ghana so far in the promotion of fundamental human rights and freedoms for all persons.
He reiterated 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 said there was currently before Parliament a Witchcraft Accusations Bill which seeks to penalise any accusation of witchcraft and this will be a huge deterrent against the unjustified accusations and characterisation of people.
“Regarding the possibility of violence against LGBTQI+ persons living in Ghana, I will like to reiterate my earlier statement that the Republic of Ghana prohibits violence of any form against any minority group including LGBTQI+ persons. There is no known record of violence in Ghana against LGBTQI+ persons,” Mr. Dame told the UN Session.
He said attaining a perfect human rights record is an exercise in progress and no member state can claim perfection.
“Ghana has come far in her quest to promote and protect human rights but there is still room for improvement. We will aspire to achieve more in order to make Ghana the most peaceful place to be in the entire world,” Mr. Dame added.
Also in Geneva was the Executive Director of POS Foundation, the facilitators of the Justice For All Programme and convenors of the Ghana Civil Society platform on the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UN UPR).
The foundation held a watch party in Accra where the UN Session was streamed live for various stakeholders to monitor proceedings and create awareness and sensitize the public on UN UPR processes, recommendations and the role of the State and Civil Society participation towards the effective implementations of recommendations received.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak