Africa-Press – Ghana. A 43-page book that simplifies individual rights in the constitution of Ghana, 1992, has been launched.
Dubbed ‘A Guide to Your Rights: Fundamental Rights and Freedoms in Ghana’, it is supposed to be an easy-to-use introduction to human rights.
The book, which was translated into Twi, also provides people with an insight into where those rights come from, what they mean and how citizens can enforce them and live with more dignity.
It was produced by the Centre for Human Rights Centre (CHR), University of Pretoria, South Africa with funding from the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Foundation and support from the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) and the Parliamentary Network Africa.
Launching the book at the premises of the CDD in Accra, Ms. Bonolo Makgale, Programmes Manager said “this booklet is basically a constitution simplified. We want citizens to be able to know their rights so that they will know what to do when their rights are breached.
She observed that a lot of people, especially literates, have read the constitution but still cannot comprehend the rights espoused in them and how they can enforce them should there be a breach.
She said, it was due to the complex legal languages that were used but noted that democracy could not thrive if the people lacked an understanding of their rights, hence the production of the book.
“A knowledgeable citizen is best placed to defend their human rights in case of violations,” she remarked.
She was hopeful that the book would raise awareness and instruct people, especially those with no legal background about the constitutional provisions on one’s rights.
“The booklet is meant to raise awareness; the booklet is meant to teach constitutional provisions to especially non-lawyers who may have read the constitution and do not understand it because of the complex legal terms,” she indicated.
She was positive that the book would go a long way to help people comprehend their rights in the constitution as similar books were produced for other Africa countries including Zimbabwe and the feedback were incredible.
On her part, Madam Stephanie Rethenberger, Director of the Rule of Law Programme for Anglophone Sub-Saharan Africa, KAS, described the booklet as her organization’s gateway to highlighting the important need for constitutional rights reform.
She remarked that if a constitution would benefit citizens, then it must reflect their will and apply equally to all.
“No matter how comprehensive and progressive any constitution may be, it must meet the demand and the need of the people to be valuable for the betterment of the people,” she said.
She said her outfit would ensure that everybody in every part of the country got a copy of the book to educate themselves.
“We are much actively passionate about raising citizen’s awareness and push constitutional literacy throughout every region in Ghana,” she stated.
The Deputy Attorney General, Madam Diana Asonaba Dapaah who had a speech read on her behalf by a Chief State Attorney, Madam Patience Adumuah- Lartey endorsed the book and called on Ghanaians to acquaint themselves with it to help them understand their rights and enforce them.
“It is my prayer that this book will reach every home, school and community in Ghana, so that real meaning will be given to our constitution…,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Oliver Barker-Vormawor, Convener, FixTheCountry movement, has called on institutions to move away from just educating people on their rights and focus on holding duty bearers accountable.
According to him, nothing would be achieved if people who hold power were not respecting the rights of the ordinary citizen by way of punishing them when they go wrong, then there was no need educating the masses on the rights.
“No matter how beautifully and well-crafted a law is, if there is a feeling that you can bribe your way out of it, if there is always a feeling that those who hold power can break the law and nothing will happen to them, then nothing will be achieved,” he said.