The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice exists to protect fundamental human rights and to ensure good governance for every person in Ghana. The Commission was given a broad mandate to achieve this mission by the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and by its enabling Act, Act 456, in 1993. The Commission’s mandate is threefold. It encompasses:
- A National Human Rights Institution
2. An Ombudsman, an agency which ensures administrative justice
3. An anticorruption Agency for the public sector
The Commission was vested with this broad and inclusive mandate for several reasons. International standards for National Human Rights Institutions, including the Paris Principles, recommend that National Human Rights Institutions in developing countries be given a broad mandate within the constitution, so they can use their limited resources to the greatest possible effect. Additionally, issues of administrative injustice and corruption often occur along with human rights abuses, and one body can more effectively address all three (3) situations.
The Commission is entrusted with the following functions:
- to investigate complaints of violations of fundamental rights and freedoms, injustice, corruption, abuse of power and unfair treatment of any person by a public officer in the exercise of his official duties;
- to investigate complaints concerning the functioning of the Public Services commission, the administrative organs of the State, the offices of the Regional co-ordinating Council and the District Assembly, the Armed Forces, the Police Service and the Prisons Service in so far as the complaints relate to the failure to achieve a balance structuring of those services or equal access by all to the recruitment of those services or fair administration in relation to those services
- to investigate complaints concerning practices and actions by persons, private enterprises and other institutions where those complaints allege violations of fundamental rights and freedoms under this Constitution
- to take appropriate action to call for the remedying, correction and reversal of instances specified in paragraphs (1), (2) and (3) of this clause through such means as are fair, proper and effective measures including-
- negotiating a compromise between the parties concerned;
- causing the complaint and the finding on it to be reported to the superior of an offending person;
- bringing proceedings in a competent Court for a remedy to secure the termination of the offending action or conduct or the abandonment or alteration of the offending procedures; and
- bringing proceedings to restrain the regulation by challenging its validity if the offending action or conduct is sought to be justified by subordinate legislation or regulation which is unreasonable or otherwise ultra vires;
- to investigate all instances of alleged or suspected corruption and the misappropriation of public moneys by officials and to take appropriate steps, including reports to the Attorney-General and the Auditor-General, resulting from such investigations
- to educate the public as to human rights and freedoms by such means as the Commissioner may decide, including publications, lectures and symposia; and
- to report annually to Parliament on the performance of its functions.
LIMITATIONS ON THE COMMISSION’S MANDATE:
While no institution, body, or person is excluded from the Commission’s mandate, the Commission has no mandate to investigate under the following conditions. The Commission cannot investigate a matter:
- that is pending before a court or judicial tribunal;
- involving relations between the government and any other government or international organization: or
- relating to the exercise of the prerogative or mercy.
The Commission is not a judicial body and cannot review decisions that have previously been decided by a competent court as the courts have their own systems of review and appeal.
The Commission’s mandate is designed to enhance the scale of food governance, democracy, peace, and social development by protecting ad enforcing fundamental human rights and administrative justice for all in Ghana. Through its various duties, the Commission hopes to help crate a free, just and equitable society in which human rights and human dignity are respected, governance is transparent, and power is accountable.