By Bernice Bessey .
The Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has called on non-state actors to support the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to educate and sensitise the public on their basic human rights, and the need to play an active role in holding leaders accountable to deliver on their mandate.
According the CDD, recent experiences in the country have proven that leaders respond quickly to lawful collective actions, which are taken in pursuit of a common goal for the betterment of society.
Hence, it would be, therefore, be prudent for all to come together and join forces to stand up for their rights and that of others, which is a civic duty to advance equality, justice and human dignity for all Ghanaians.
CDD-Ghana would, therefore, like to recommend that the government takes immediate steps to address the following: Repeal the laws on the death penalty from the statute books to uphold the dignity of life, while it also ensures justice for victims of police and military brutalities, and prosecute, such security personnel culpable of such heinous crimes against the very people they are supposed to protect
Additionally, address overcrowding and poor conditions of the prisons and police cells, through the adoption of non-custodial sentencing for minor offences.
In a statement it issued to mark this year’s International Human Rights Day, it stated that the UN 2017 Human Rights Report on Ghana was very troubling, and demands stricter enforcement of the laws, and stiffer punishment from the government and its accountability agencies to protect citizens’ rights.
The report incorporated excessive use of force by the police, resulting in deaths and injuries, rape by police personnel, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, assault on and harassment of journalists, and corruption in all branches of government.
There were also lack of accountability in cases of violence against women and children, including female genital mutilation/cutting, early and forced marriage, sexual exploitation of children, infanticide of children with disabilities, trafficking of persons, and exploitative child labour.
“Such proactive steps from the state and accountability agencies will serve as [a] deterrent to others to reduce or avert violations of the rights of citizens by institutions whose main responsibility is to protect the people, as mandated by the 1992 Constitution,” it stated.
It noted that this year’s International Human Rights Day, dubbed “Let’s Stand Up for Equality, Justice and Human Dignity”, is asking everyone to stand up for their civil, economic, political and cultural rights, and those of others.
As a result, CDD-Ghana, wishes to commend all Ghanaians who have stood up against inequality and injustice from fellow citizens, the government and its agencies.
It continued: “Despite the existence of a human rights-centered Constitution, a plethora of specific human rights laws, and the fact that Ghana is a signatory to several international treaties and charters on human rights and other legislations geared towards protecting the rights of citizens, including the vulnerable and marginalised members of society, awareness and enforcement have been major challenges.”
To prosecute and punish officials who committed such abuses, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government, impunity remained a problem.