The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has established new guidelines to assist public officials in identifying and managing conflicts of interest without disclosing their identities.
Mr. John Ato Breboh, a Senior Principal Investigator of the CHRAJ Tema Regional Office, said the new initiative sought to provide whistleblowers with a privacy and confidentiality policy that ensured anyone who lodged a complaint with the commission was not exposed to the public.
Mr. Breboh said this at a Ghana News Agency dialogue to mark CHRAJ’s 30th anniversary on the theme: “Success, Challenges, and the Way Forward.”
The general theme for the anniversary celebration is “CHRAJ at 30: Promoting and Protecting Human Rights and Ensuring Transparency and Accountability in Public Service Delivery.”
He said that the new modalities were part of integrity management, which comprised conflict of interest, gift management, access declaration, and ethics; hence, the need to protect individuals from being targeted because of their sensitive nature.
The constitution mandates the commission to ensure that public officials do not put their jobs in conflict-of-interest situations.
He also revealed that issues bothering the core values, to manage situations of conflict of interest included transparency, human dignity, integrity, accountability, privacy, and confidentiality, which were only investigated by the head officer.
Mr. Breboh further explained that the privacy and confidentiality policy had motivated people within the key population bracket, that is, people living with HIV, and persons within the LBGTQ+ community to lodge a complaint at their offices, which they handle privately.
“People who access health care and services from public institutions that were violated lodged their complaints at the commission, which had been successfully investigated, and actions were carried out against those who violated the rights of people living within the key population bracket,” he said.
He said the commission had three mandates, investigation, legal services, and research in the implementation of CHRAJ’s programmes as well as public education.
He reiterated that the Commission had introduced guidelines to monitor and assist public officials in identifying and managing situations of conflict of interest and over the years the commission had conducted a significant number of investigations at the head office relating to conflict of interest.
“The human rights mandate in Article 218 A, C, and F of the 1992 constitution and Section 1 A, C, and G of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice Act 1993 Act 456 mandates the commission to protect universal human rights and freedoms relating to civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights and other international human rights instruments that Ghana has rectified”, he added.
He noted that the commission’s human rights functions were divided into two broad categories, which included protection and enforcement, promotion, and prevention.
Thus, with the protection and enforcement of fundamental human rights, CHRAJ investigates complaints of human rights violations by individuals and institutions, both private and public, which the commission resolves through various methods such as mediation, negotiations, and formal hearings by instituting actions and proceedings in court.
In addition, “the commission carried out special investigations into human rights abuses that were systemic, cultural, or in the public interest”, he said.
He said that CHRAJ, together with its collaborators, were active in bringing the practice of trokoshi to the current level as the officers from the Provision Act had played a major role in the investigation, which was systemic because it was a national issue.
Notwithstanding, CHRAJ is currently working with its collaborators on witch camps, for which the reports will be ready by the close of the year.
He highlighted some challenges the Tema Office faced such as financial instability, among others, and called on the massive support of the media to help them promote the work of the Commission.