The Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Mr Joseph Whittal, is advocating stiffer punishment for individuals and businesses involved in destroying the environment especially illegal mining (Galamsey) activities.
According to him, this would serve as a deterrent to others who have intentions of destroying the environment for business or individual interest.
“The wanton destruction of the environment and the pollution of water bodies due to galamsey activities must be fought head-on with more urgency irrespective of who is involved,” he said.
Mr Whittal made the call in Accra yesterday at a day’s forum in commemoration of the International Human Rights Day held under the theme; “The 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Implications for Human Rights Protection in Ghana.”
The CHRAJ Commissioner stated that both private and public business owners must do business legally while respecting the rights of all individuals whose livelihood would be affected by their operations.
Adding, “Human rights due diligence must be a pre-requisite for the establishment of businesses.
He expressed optimism that when the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights was adopted next year, it would provide more impetus for the regulation of activities of businesses in line with human rights principles.
The Commissioner noted that despite Ghana’s efforts to improve upon noteworthy gains in human rights protection and promotion, however, there remained significant room for improvement.
He urged government to reform policies to protect the rights of the poor, vulnerable, and marginalised including Women, Children, Older Persons, Persons Living with HIV, and Persons Living with Disability.
“As a Commission, we remain committed to our mandate of promotion and protection of human rights and we will do everything possible within the ambit of the Law to ensure true respect for the rights of all “leaving no one behind,” he assured.
The Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr. Alfred Tuah-Yeboah, said the celebration of Human Rights Day is to inculcate the essence of recognizing and upholding human rights and empathy for individuals regardless of their race, place of origin, political opinion, colour, religion, and gender.
Additionally, he said the celebration was to deliberate and understand the challenges to the advancements in human rights facing Ghana today and those that we are likely to face in the future.
“One of the thematic issues identified by CHRAJ in relation to blatant disregard for the protection of human rights enshrined in the UDHR is business operations and environmental rights.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator for Ghana, Mr Charles Abani, said the usage of Paraquat and chlorpyrifos were banned in Europe however, they were imported and used in Ghana especially glyphosate, which was in yam production was found to be ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’.