Institutions charged with the fight against corruption must be adequately resourced and strengthened to ensure transparency and accountability in the delivery of public service, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has said.
The Commissioner of CHRAJ, Joseph Whittal, said corruption had become so endemic that governments must move beyond mere rhetoric in combating the menace affecting the development of the country.
Mr Whittal said the commission, for instance, had faced inadequate funding, and that it had affected its delivery of multiple mandates, explaining that although CHRAJ performed triple mandates comprising human rights, administrative justice and anti-corruption, it was funded as if it was one institution.
The commission, he said, had identified a number of challenges in the policies, processes and operations of the commission’s legal framework, and would be preparing an amendment to the Commission’s Act, Act 456, and its Constitutional Instrument — C.I. 67 — for presentation and passage into law by Parliament.
Mr Whittal, however, gave the assurance that the commission “will do everything possible within the ambit of the law and the constraints we find ourselves in to ensure that our vision and mission is a reality and not a mirage”.
At the launch of the 30th anniversary of the commission in Accra yesterday, Mr Whittal disclosed that a CHRAJ-Ghana Statistical Service experimental survey on actual corruption revealed a damning corruption scale in the country, and said it called for action and resources to deal with it.
Mr Whittal said governments must stop the platitudes and self-glorification as to which government did better in fighting corruption and lead by example in the fight.
He said there was no doubt that the country had made quite some great gains in human rights protection and promotion.
He, however, noted that there remained some significant turf to cover, especially in protecting the rights of the poor, vulnerable and marginalised, including women and children, persons living with and affected by HIV/TB, persons with disability, and persons deprived of liberty based on law.
“As a country, we must take the fight against illegal mining — galamsey — more seriously lest we risk mortgaging our future as a country where we may have to import water.
“Business owners must do business legally while respecting the rights of all persons who will be affected by their operations,” he said.
The half-year long 30th anniversary celebrations will be held on the theme: “CHRAJ at 30: Promoting and Protecting Human Rights and Ensuring Transparency and Accountability in Public Service Delivery”.
It will feature activities such as health screening, research webinar, nationwide health walks and zonal online anniversary celebration seminars.
The commission will also hold a conference which will bring representatives of all the national human rights institutions in Africa to Accra where the baton would be given to CHRAJ to host the Chairmanship of the Network of African Human Rights Institutions.
On the commission’s performance over the years, Mr Whittal said the commission led in advocacy against the practice of trokosi as a dehumanising traditional practice, now criminalised under the Criminal and Other Offences Act; led in promoting the fight against female genital mutilation as a dehumanising cultural practice, now driven underground and criminalised; and had investigated and resolved over 300,000 human rights complaints against public institutions and private enterprises and persons.
“In the area of bringing the services of the commission closer to the ordinary person, the commission has been able to expand its geographical reach by opening offices in all the 16 regions and 175 districts. These offices are manned by a total staff strength of over 1,000 officers,” he added.
In solidarity messages, the UN Resident Coordinator, Charles Abani, said the country’s ambition to be self-reliant would be achieved if investment was made in institutions such as CHRAJ as it delivered on its mandate.
The Executive Secretary of the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition, Beauty Emefa Narteh, applauded the commission for its unwavering commitment and efforts in promoting and protecting human rights, ensuring administrative justice and fighting corruption.
Story By Mary Anane-Amponsah & Diana Mensah