Justice Emile Francis Short, the Former Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights of Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has called on state institutions to ensure the enforcement of laws in the country to promote fairness.
He said although the country had ratified 51 Conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and had a number of well written laws, the problem has been the enforcement of the laws.
Justice Short was speaking at a public lecture at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) on the topic: “Human Rights in Business” organised by the Legal Resources Centre and the States of the Netherlands as part of the ‘Promoting Human Rights Awareness in Business’ project.
He said, for instance, although the country has a Disability Act, little has been done to achieve equality for all persons adding that the country could enforce the laws that has been beautifully drafted by paying attention and will-power to sacrifice.
Justice Short said during his tenure of office as the CHRAJ boss, he did the best to ensure implementation of the laws under his jurisdiction even if there was the need to step some toes.
He said many public servants were unwilling to pay the price of sacrifice to discharge their duties with regards to the full implementation and enforcement of the laws in the country.
Justice Short urged the media to activate their roles in creating much awareness on human rights and the need for citizenry to adhere to their responsibility and demand for their rights as well.
He said human rights were the standards or conditions that were necessary for living a decent life with the basic entitlements that protect the ability to satisfy basic human needs.
Justice Short said businesses in the country impacts on human rights both positively and negatively, identifying the positive impacts as employment, skills development, contributions to economic development at local and national levels.
He identified the adverse impacts of businesses on human rights as interference with the rights to health, property, poor standards of living, exposure to environmental contaminants, as well as resettlement without adequate consultation and/or compensation.
Justice Short urged the state to provide adequate assistance to business enterprises to assess and address the heightened risks of abuse, paying special attention to both gender-based and sexual violence.
He said the country must deny access to public support and services for a business enterprise that is involved with gross human rights abuses and refuses to corporate in addressing the situation.
Justice Short said for the country to achieve human rights in business, the state must ensure that the current policies, legislation, regulations and enforcement measures of businesses were effective in addressing the risk of involvement in gross human rights abuses.
He urged corporate entities to respect human rights as espoused in the International Bill of Human Rights and Principles concerning fundamental rights set out in the International labour Organisation’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at work.
Justice Short said there is the need for greater awareness by all of the negative impact business operations can have on violation of the human rights of the citizenry as, for instance, enumerated in the findings of CHRAJ’s mining report.
He said there is need for greater commitment of companies in the area of human rights and called for the need to move from principles to practice.