CHRAJ to mobilise Ghanaians against mob justice

BY: Caroline Boateng
Deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr Richard Quayson
Deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr Richard Quayson

A National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) is in the offing to mobilise Ghanaians against mob justice and other human rights abuses.

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) began work on the NHRAP a few years ago.

Currently, a baseline survey to assess the country’s state in relation to human rights is to be undertaken for the completion of the policy.

The Deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr Richard Quayson, told the Daily Graphic that the NHRAP, modelled after the national anti-corruption action plan, would have the consensus of all Ghanaians in the campaign.

Targets

In an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, Mr Quayson recalled the work of CHRAJ in the 1990s and early 2000s against mob justice.

“One of the most grievous human rights violations is occasioned when people misjudge you and lynch you,” he said.

Thus, CHRAJ began at the time to sensitise people to the practice, which was being meted to many suspected of robbery.

“Most Ghanaians then thought CHRAJ was sympathetic towards armed robbers,” he recalled.

He said in spite of the commission’s public statements against the practice and reminders, the vice had gone on, and today, it had become a culture in the country.

Mr Quayson said the practice of mob justice that had now become a part of the life of Ghanaians presented a dangerous situation to all.

That was because anyone could be a target at any time, just like Captain Maxwell Mahama, who was killed by a mob at Upper Denkyira in the Central Region over the weekend.

Illegal mining

Mr Quayson said in the same vein, CHRAJ had studied mining in the country and launched a report on its investigations on September 4, 2008.

Entitled, “The State of Human Rights in Mining Communities in Ghana, he said the extensive report, that delved into the human rights situation of mining communities, first brought up issues of illegal mining that was taking place in the Upper East Region.

“CHRAJ was even the first to draw attention to the security threats of illegal mining as some of the illegal miners investigated in the north had arms,” he said.

He conceded that after several directives and follow-ups on their recommendations to the government, ministries, departments and agencies, no action had been taken to address some of those challenges.

The recommendations in the published research included curbing the activities of illegal mining because of the degradation of the environment and the pollution of water bodies.

Mr Quayson expressed worry over the disregard of law by Ghanaians and warned that it would eventually haunt and hurt each Ghanaian.

Efforts

Mr Quayson said the staff of CHRAJ would continue to strive in getting all to respect rights.

He explained that with the past challenges of resource constraints, the commission had adopted the “least cost approach” to public education.

He said that meant the workers had to engage in one-on-one conversations in the sensitisation exercise on issues relating to human rights and corruption, because there were no resources for programmes and coverage by the media.

They, therefore, had to go to offices and schools and involve students and workers in smaller groups in their efforts to disseminate the right knowledge, Mr Quayson said.

“That was a small effort compared to the huge task of educating all Ghanaians and the potential of the media to do that instantaneously,” he added.

While commending the government and the media for their efforts in the campaign against galamsey, Mr Quayson urged the government to stick to the campaign until the country had had its health restored.

He urged Ghanaians, to take note that mob justice was an abuse, as the principle in the country was to investigate a person who was even caught in the act of a crime before meting out any punishment.

 

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