AS the country approaches an election year, Ghanaians have been cautioned to be wise and choose political leaders who will promote the rule of law and good governance.
The acting Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Ms Anna Bossman, gave the caution during the presentation of the State of Human Rights Report of the country in Accra yesterday.
December 10 marks the United Nations Human Rights Day.
In Ghana, a week-long programme of activities, which included the launch of the Braille version of the CHRAJ Act and a Human Rights Manual for the Ghana Education Service (GES), ended yesterday with the presentation of the report.
On the theme, “Human Rights and Social Justice in Ghana @ 50: Have we come of Age?” the week-long programme was also used to review the country’s human rights performance.
Ms Bossman said Ghanaians had to be particularly wise, especially at a time when “we are daily bombarded by politicians on all sides promising the electorate the moon, the stars and a bit of cheese. It is important for us to weigh what the aspirants say and, more important, wise up to what they don’t say”.
To aspiring candidates, political parties and the electorate, Ms Bossman pointed out that meaningful achievement in development and poverty reduction was only possible if significant numbers of vulnerable persons in society met their basic social and economic needs.
She said the government’s commitment to development and poverty alleviation should not only be “measured merely on the basis of macro-economic indicators, physical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, industries, etc but on the basis of the full realisation of the fundamental human rights of all in society”.
She added that such a society would be one in which a significant proportion of the vulnerable population enjoyed their right to food, basic primary health care, shelter and housing and the most basic forms of education.
While commending the country for the gains in the promotion of human rights, the observance of civil liberties and the decline of poverty from 52 per cent in 1992 to 28 per cent in 2006, Ms Bossman said there was still abject poverty, corruption, lack of access to justice, among other things.
“We have been found wanting in human rights and social justice in every sector,” she added.
Giving highlights of that, she said the commission’s monitoring of some agencies had revealed that with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), some poor communities could not afford the premium, while the scheme did not cater for some special needs of the disabled.
She said the scheme did not cover psychiatric patients at the Pantang Psychiatric Hospital. However, the treatment of patients at the Psychiatric Unit of the Volta Regional Hospital was free but where patients reported of other ailments, they had to be treated with drugs under the NHIS.
On education, Ms Bossman said the monitoring of some schools showed the lack of teaching and learning materials, poor lighting and ventilation of classrooms and inaccessible physical infrastructure by the disabled in some schools.
Monitoring at the Gambaga Witch Camp showed that 80 residents had been registered with the NHIS but on expiration of the premium it had not been renewed.
Moreover, there were claims of the payment of exorbitant “entrance fee” and “departure tax” imposed on alleged witches.
She said that called for further investigation and action.
Ms Bossman said no government could be truly democratic or claim to be promoting good governance if it failed to recognise the link between human rights and sustainable development, poverty eradication and corruption.
Reiterating the position of CHRAJ, she said, “The commission maintains that poverty eradication and economic growth are not just about per capita income, GDP rates, inflation, public consumption, the pursuance of macro-economic policies or accelerated private sector-led growth. Poverty reduction from a rights perspective entails working towards the full realisation of the fundamental human rights of all in society.”
Ms Bossman later launched the year-long campaign of the UN on the theme, “Dignity and justice for all of us”.
Mr Abraham Nunoo, who represented the UN Resident Co-ordinator, Mr Daouda Toure, and read the message of the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon, said the year-long campaign was to promote the ideals of the Declaration of Human Rights.
He said the extraordinary vision and determination of the drafters of the Human Rights Declaration had produced a document that was widely translated and resorted to by most countries as the basis of their constitutions.
DAILY GRAPHIC, TUESDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2007