Kwame Mensah, Coordinator for KASA, an initiative aimed at enhancing the capacity of civil society and media organizations for concerted and evidence- based advocacy, made the call against the backdrop of the upcoming Universal Periodic Review of Ghana’s Human Rights records by the UN next November.
He said although the government had taken steps to act on recommendations in the 2008 and 2012 reviews, a lot more needed to be done.
Mensah made the call while addressing the media during a two-day workshop organized by government institutions and the International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN) and local CSOs in human rights in Ghana.
“Government and its institutions have taken quite a number of steps to address the issues of human rights abuse in the natural resource sector in the country but there is a lot more that must be done to deal with the issues comprehensively,” he stressed.
According to him, issues including situating mining concessions close to water bodies that have served as sources of potable water for communities and widespread pollution of water bodies still persist in the country.
He also said land-grabbing by multinationals for farming and other developmental activities ended up depriving especially women of farm lands, thereby denying them their livelihoods.
“You know that the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are no more just on the access to water but the quality of water,” Mensah stated.
In the UN assessment of countries on human rights, CSOs are also required to present a “Shadow Report” to the UN six months before the UN review.
Ghanaian CSOs therefore commenced a two-day workshop here on Tuesday to develop the themes on which to present the “Shadow Report” to the UN in March 2017.,
Frank Doyi, Project Coordinator in charge of Growth and Activism at Amnesty International Ghana, was of the view that, in spite of commendable steps government had taken to address issues, there still remained much work to be done.
He listed congestion in prisons, the death penalty, access of women to farming lands, mixing juvenile offenders with adults and the mixing of remand inmates with convicts in the same prisons as areas that needed urgent attention.
“We have actually been advocating non-custodial sentences for certain offences in order to decongest the prisons, and although the government’s Justice-For-All program is commendable, we need to go farther than that to decongest the prisons,” he insisted. Enditem