Entrenching human rights reporting

BY: Daily Graphic

For the past 20 years, Ghana has been punctual in submitting its human rights report at the global level.

However, within that same period, the country has failed to submit its biennial human rights situation report to the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR), the regional body on human rights protection and promotion.

A consultant to the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI), Dr Tresor Makunya, who is also a researcher at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, disclosed this in a recent interview with the Daily Graphic during training of the staff of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and civil society organisations in Accra.

The consultant and researcher explained that Ghana’s failure to submit its report meant that for the past two decades, its human rights situation had remained a closed book to the ACHPR.

The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights is an international human rights instrument promoting and protecting human rights and basic freedoms on the continent.

The charter that established the ACHPR, was inaugurated in Addi Ababa, Ethiopia, on November 1987.

Ghana, after submitting an initial report covering 1990 to 1992, never submitted it again until 2001, when it submitted a consolidated report on the period 1993 to 2000.

Ghana’s failure to submit its reports means we may be losing out on the engagements and constructive dialogue and criticisms to make the lot of our people better.

Indeed, the Daily Graphic sees no reason the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has failed to coordinate with relevant independent constitutional bodies, such as CHRAJ, other ministries and agencies, to get our report to the ACHPR.

The excuse of there being no human rights abuses to report on does not click because the report covers the human rights situation; that is, abuses, measures to redress them and even how Ghana has achieved successes on the human rights front.

Ghana cannot say that it has a clean human rights record when some women continue to lobby for the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill, when the Property Rights of Spouses Bill has stalled in Parliament, when parliamentarians haggle over whether women must be beneficiaries of assets and the type of women — married, girlfriends and concubines — who should benefit from assets.

On the educational and the youth front, a lot of our youth graduate into unemployment, while, after the passage of the Persons with Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715), most public institutions are still inaccessible to the disabled.

We still have children who are not in school roaming our communities because parents cannot afford the cost of pre-basic education.

All these must be shared experiences and, therefore, reported on.

More importantly, Ghana must not be seen to be snubbing the ACHPR and, instead, promptly report on situations globally. That is because current global events, with European countries and their American partners focused on seamlessly integrating Ukrainian refugees. While Syrian and African refugees were pushed back from European countries during the massive migrations of 2014, are staggering signs of the times when continental blocs are working in the interest of their own.

These events starkly point to the fact that regional blocs are working in sync in the interest of their own people and Ghana must take a cue from this and work within its bloc for the progress of its people.

If for nothing at all, Africans have shared perspectives and experiences, and that can be harnessed and bettered for the people across the continent.

The Daily Graphic calls on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, as well as CHRAJ, to, as a matter of urgency, surmount any hindrance to presenting Ghana’s situational report on human rights to the ACHPR.

The ministry will need resources for a baseline survey of our human rights situation, and the government must provide them.

It will also need ingenuity from CHRAJ to get done what needs to be done.