Accra – Olivia Asempapa is a 19-year old Grade 10 student of Holy Trinity Cathedral Senior High School in Accra, Ghana’s capital. Her understanding of human rights is “What every citizen is entitled to have under the 1992 constitution of Ghana”. This includes free movement and protection and education for all citizens. For her classmate, 17-year old Robert Ablorh, “human rights allow people to express themselves and human rights institutions are in place to prevent people from abusing other people’s rights”. Meanwhile, Selina Buernortey, a 15-year old Grade 8 students of Independence Avenue Junior High School, right to life and right to education are the most fundamental of all rights because “without education, one cannot be a part of the decision making process in any society”.
These are the views of some students at an event to mark this year’s International Human Rights Day, held in Accra. The students also called for more education outreach on human rights in schools and communities to enable citizens understand what their rights are and how the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) works to protect their rights.
The event, organised by CHRAJ, in partnership with UNIC Accra, serves as a platform for the presentation of the State of Human Rights report in Ghana and for public interactions to foster understanding of CHRAJ’s work and the findings of the report.
This year’s report covers six thematic areas including right to basic education, right to health, children’s rights, orphanages, detention facilities and harmful cultural practices. Though there seems to have been some improvement in some areas, there are still many challenges that need urgent attention.
Under education, poor administration of the Capitation Grant under the Free & Compulsory Basic Universal Education programme is having serious consequences on the structure, teaching and learning materials and other school facilities; Delays in reimbursing service providers under the National Health Insurance Service is hampering service to people under the programme thereby denying people the right to health; Under children’s rights, the Commission reveals that child labour is still a problem and that the highest number of working children are found in agriculture, street hawking and domestic servitude, while child neglect remained one of the highest number of cases of child rights cases reported; Under orphanages, even though the Guidelines for the Operation of Orphanages in Ghana imposed a duty on orphanages to have an infirmary and first aid kits, 8 out of the 22 orphanages covered had no infirmary and; Detention facilities in the country are in deplorable conditions. Poor ventilation, overcrowding, poor toilet and bath facilities and lack of beddings are a few.
The Commission made some recommendations in the report and called on the government to “…redouble its effort at eradicating poverty and entrenching a culture of respect for human rights to ensure that everyone in the country enjoys life in dignity and respect.” The full report will be available on the Commission’s website (http://www.chrajghana.com/) in two weeks.