A CROSS section of Ghanaians have commended the second presidential debate as critical in setting out future policy initiatives for the development of the country.
The Acting Commissioner on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Ms Anna Bossman when called immediately after the programme on phone for her views on the debate was of the view that issues on human rights raised by all four presidential contenders, were in the right direction.
On a specific submission by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate, Nana Akuffo Addo, on strengthening CHRAJ to directly investigate issues of corruption without a public complaint, Ms Bossman welcomed this also as a progressive step for the country if implemented.
She said the comments of the candidate meant that he viewed the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of CHRAJ and the Minister of Transportation, Dr Richard Anane, as not good for democracy in the country.
Ms Bossman said the particular ruling, in which the Supreme Court decided that there had to be an identifiable complaint before CHRAJ can investigate human rights violations, abuse of office and conflict of interest, had taken away from the commission a lot of initiative and proactiveness.
She said whereas in other jurisdictions the Human Rights Commissions and the Obudsman function was a proactive one, the judgement in that case might not have taken that into consideration.
She said the willingness of the presidential candidates to strengthen CHRAJ and its Ombudsman function would be progressive if implemented.
A Governance and Legal Policy Officer of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) Ghana, Mr Kojo Asante, for his part said the commitments made by the presidential candidates were “going to be set in stone,” for all to follow up and ensure their fulfilment.
On assets declaration, an issue that the CDD has worked on for some time, he said the key issues for redress were that the assets declaration regime of the country was not public, had no disclosure, no systems for verification and was not broad enough.
He was of the view that each of the four presidential candidates had touched on an aspect, which showed a general understanding of the issues at stake.
Mr Asante said with the help of technology, the commitments made by the candidates during the debate was going to be followed up to ensure their fulfilment.
Dr Sulley Gariba, the Executive Director of the Center for Policy Alternatives based in Tamale said the candidates’ comments tackling social challenges and putting the development of the North on the front burner, were similar.
That, pointed to the fact that the critical areas demanding change and action to correct social imbalances in the country was not in controversy.
He said their comments provided “useful indication of important public policy” on social and developmental challenges.
Dr Gariba said the linkages made by the Convention People’s Party’s (CPP) presidential candidate, Dr Paa Kwesi between development, poverty, and peace was good and critical, as he highlighted the pre-requisite of peace for development initiatives.
He said irrespective of who won, he was sure that the policy initiatives discussed would be moved forward.
Mr Emmanuel Bombande, the Executive Director of the West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), while commending the show of unity and peace exhibited by the four candidates at the end of the debate said the ultimate responsibility lay with how each Ghanaian comported him or herself on the day of voting.
He said the candidates had expressed rightly a message of peace, however, the onus was on all to ensure that these expressions of peace were lived out fully.
DAILY GRAPHIC, FRIDAY NOVEMBER 14, 2008