Ghana’s human rights record is enviable, but there are still some areas where progress can be made, according to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Godfred Yeboah Dame.
He said, “a close study of the history of Ghana shows that the territories comprising the erstwhile Gold Coast, through their body of customary laws, exhibited an innate recognition and respect for some of the very fine principles of human rights, including the sanctity of life; the right to live in community; the right to own property, individual and communal; and the right to a fair trial”.
He made the remarks at a public forum at the British Council auditorium organised by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to mark International Human Rights Day.
The forum was under the theme “The State of Human Rights in Ghana: Progress, Challenges and the Way Forward”.
According to the Minister “upon the formal attainment of independence and the regulation of our lives by a constitution, the country’s human rights protection regime has undergone much transformation, culminating in the most comprehensive system so far finding expression in Chapter 5 of the 1992 constitution” of the republic.
“I can describe the state of human rights in Ghana in one single phase: ‘Lots of ground gained with some more room for improvement’. This phrase is apt upon a holistic consideration of the state of human rights in Ghana, from the conventional civil and political rights to the critical economic, social and cultural rights,” the Attorney General said.
On Media freedom the Minister said “The credentials of Ghana as a strong democratic nation with a formidable reputation in the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms of all persons living here, and with a highly independent and fearless judiciary ready to provide a remedy for abuses, remain unshaken,” Dame added.
“If there has been a conspicuous symbol of our freedom as a nation, it is the presence of a free, dynamic and ever highly critical press. The media have been free to comment and publish on virtually any topic at all, uncensored,” he said.
“A random search on TV, radio and other social media platforms reveals an enthusiastic populace willing to communicate and share their views in the media on matters of national interest even where, most of the time, same will be supposedly offensive to the government,” Dame said.
“Media freedom, in my respectful view, cannot under any circumstance be said to be threatened in this country. I am not unmindful of certain isolated incidents of threats and attacks on the media that might have been responsible for Ghana to drop in her recent ranking on the World Press Freedom Index.
“Work has to be done in this regard to boost the image of the nation. It is, however, imperative to point out that the freedoms and rights we enjoy in the nation are not absolute. There is a need for all of us to exercise greater responsibility to safeguard the perpetual enjoyment of those rights and freedoms, including media freedom, by observance of the limitations sanctioned by the constitution and other applicable laws,” he said.