The United States (US) Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Ambassador Michele Taylor has paid a courtesy visit to the Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) Mr. Joseph Whittal at the CHRAJ head office in Accra.
The purpose of the visit was to extend congratulations to the Commission for Ghana’s election to the HRC and, and to also dialogue on the mutual responsibilities of both the US and Ghana as members of the UNHRC in promoting and protecting fundamental human rights, as well as discuss ways to address common challenges and explore opportunities for collaboration in the area of human rights advocacy.
During the meeting, Commissioner Whittal provided an overview of CHRAJ’s ongoing initiatives to promote respect for human rights in Ghana, underscoring CHRAJ’s commitment to addressing human rights violations, administrative injustices, and fighting corruption to ensure access to justice for all citizens and promote good governance.
Some insights into the strides made by CHRAJ to promote gender equality and prevent cultural and gender-related discrimination, particularly in the areas of early child marriages and poor representation of women in key leadership positions were also shared by the Commissioner. He added that through the Commission’s effective public education function and presence across the country, CHRAJ continues to sensitize citizens nationwide on its mandates to prevent violations and abuse.
Mr. Whittal also stressed the need for responsible corporate practices, especially within the extractive sector when the discussion touched on the broader spectrum of human rights implications of business. He expressed the Commission’s commitment to ensuring that businesses operating in Ghana adhered to international human rights standards, hence the collaboration between CHRAJ and the Attorney General to assess Business and Human Rights (BHR) practices last year which has resulted in the ongoing process of developing an action plan on BHR.
Ambassador Taylor, on her part, commended CHRAJ for its dedication to upholding human rights, particularly highlighting the Commission’s recognition as an ‘A’ status National Human Rights Institution globally. She said the courtesy call not only served as a platform for substantive discussions on critical human rights issues, but also as a chance to familiarize herself with the work of the Commission.
Anti-corruption efforts also took center stage in the dialogue, with both parties agreeing on the importance of transparency, accountability, and the rule of law in fostering good governance. To this, Deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr. Richard Quayson explained that Ghana’s National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP 2015-2024) is being evaluated towards the development of better strategies to strengthen anti-corruption measures. He said the Commission is currently in touch with key stakeholders who will play critical roles in developing a new NACAP which he believes would be more impactful than the previous one, therefore, making corruption a high-risk enterprise in Ghana.
Other discussions covered a range of topics, including the ratification of Human Rights Treaties, the implementation of the recommendations under the Universal Period Review, the abolishment of the death penalty, judicial reforms, and collaborations with Civil Society Organizations to address human rights issues.
The visit ended with both parties expressing their optimism and commitment to working together to promote and protect human rights globally.
Other members present at the meeting were the Deputy Commissioner, Ms. Mercy Larbi, the Director for Human Rights at CHRAJ, Mrs. Mary Nartey, the Human Rights Officer at the US Mission to the HRC, and the Political Officer at the US Embassy, Mr. Christopher Perry.