Mr. Joseph Wittal, Commissioner, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), has been decorated with the prestigious 2023 Human Rights Prize of the De Sanctis Foundation Award for his remarkable achievements in the protection and promotion of human rights on the continent.
The award is also in recognition of his contribution to broadening the frontiers of human rights promotion in the country and the CHRAJ’s general commitment and demonstration to fight for the rights of all, especially the underprivileged and the vulnerable.
A statement copied to the Ghana News Agency in Tema by CHRAJ noted that Mr. Whittal was among three awardees who received their Award Medals in the Human Rights category at the second edition of the “De Sanctis Award for Human Rights” at the historic Palace of Justice in Rome, Italy.
The event aimed to recognize exemplary efforts and celebrate the remarkable achievements of authoritative figures who have distinguished themselves in defending human rights.
Among the high-profile dignitaries who attended the ceremony were the First President of the Supreme Court of Cassation, Margherita Cassano, the President of the De Sanctis Foundation, Francesco De Sanctis, and the President of the De Sanctis Award, Gianni Letta.
The jury, chaired by Pietro Curzio, President Emeritus of the Supreme Court of Cassation, said in their justification that they chose to honour CHRAJ for its multifaceted and impactful role in upholding human rights, not only within Ghana’s borders.
According to the jury, their decision was rooted in the profound recognition of CHRAJ’s extensive responsibilities and tangible impact, making Ghana a shining model for human rights protection globally, particularly Ghana’s exemplary guarantee of religious freedom and harmonious coexistence between the Christian majority and the Muslim minority, which stands as a testament to its commitment to fundamental liberties, thereby becoming a beacon for the world to follow.
The jury also lauded Ghana’s progressive stance on the international stage, noting that in 2022, Ghana voted in favour of the United Nations General Assembly resolution for a universal moratorium on the death penalty.
“This was a historic decision underscoring Ghana’s dedication to the principles of humanity and justice,” the jury stated.
Another compelling reason for awarding CHRAJ was also due to its collaborative efforts and active engagements with global institutions such as the United Nations (UN), with specific reference to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The notable partnerships with the European Union as well as its involvement in regional consultations of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) globally.
In addition to this, CHRAJ also commemorates and participates in celebratory events of the UN, including International Human Rights Day, World Day against Child Labour, and International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, among other landmark UN days, thereby showcasing Ghana’s commitment to implementing vital development policies and programmes in addition to promoting human rights.
The jury, however, expressed profound concern about nations that flout democratic values, justify human rights violations, and deny fundamental freedoms.
They emphasized that such actions impede internal progress and damage the fabric of multilateralism, potentially leading to conflicts between states.
The accolade bestowed upon CHRAJ is a global endorsement of Ghana’s unwavering commitment to the principles of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law and resonates with its mandate to protect and promote universal human rights and other freedoms relating to civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.