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Review regulations that infringe on women’s rights - CHRAJ charges institutions

BY: Caroline Boateng
Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr Joseph Whittal
Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr Joseph Whittal

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has asked all public and private institutions with employment regulations or conditions that infringe on the rights of women in their employment to review them immediately.

“If the reviews are not undertaken and complaints are made to the commission, the affected institutions will not get away with them,” the Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr Joseph Whittal, told the Daily Graphic in an interview in Accra last Wednesday.

Victory

He made the call on the heels of another victory by CHRAJ when the commission opposed an appeal by the Attorney General (A-G) against damages granted by the Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court to two fire officers, Fire Woman (FW) Grace Fosu and FW Thelma Hammond, in April 2018.

Regulation 33 (6) of the Conditions of Service of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) states: “A female employee shall not be dismissed on the ground that she is pregnant, provided she has served the first three years.’’

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Ms Fosu and Ms Hammond, however, became pregnant within the first three years of their employment and were dismissed by the GNFS in 2014 and 2013, respectively.
Aggrieved by their dismissal, they petitioned the CHRAJ, which in turn sued the GNFS and the A-G.

The applicants, CHRAJ, Ms Fosu and Ms Hammond, argued that the dismissal and Regulation 33 (6) were against the fundamental human rights of the two women, as stipulated in Article 17 of the 1992 Constitution.

The court agreed with their claims and declared as unlawful Regulation 33 (6) of the Conditions of Service of the GNFS.

The court, presided over by Mr Justice Anthony Yeboah, a justice of the Court of Appeal sitting as a High Court judge, held that “Regulation 33 (6) of the Conditions of Service of the GNFS is discriminatory in effect, unjustifiable, illegitimate and illegal’’.

Apart from the compensation of GH¢50,000 to be paid to each woman, the court also ordered the GNFS to reinstate the two women and also pay them all their salaries and benefits that had accrued during the period of their dismissal.

The A-G, however, appealed against the damages awarded and instituted a stay of execution of the judgement.
CHRAJ opposed the appeal on all grounds.