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General News Tue, 3 Jan 2006

Not even the President can influence CHRAJ

- Mr. Richard Quayson, Deputy Commissioner of the Commissioner for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), has asserted the independence of the commission, saying CHRAJ is jealous about its independence and therefore takes serious aversion to any form of interference.

He said the commission is sufficiently insulated from interference and therefore cannot be ordered to investigate cases adding." Not even the President can order CHRAJ to investigate cases" because that would amount to interference.

"The President cannot challenge the verdict or decision of CHRAJ. Even parliament has no right to that effect," Quayson declared during a media encounter in Kumasi recently. Emphasizing the independence of CHRAJ further, Quayson said the President does not enjoy any indemnity and that as a public officer and first gentleman of the nation, he is answerable to allegations and cannot escape the scrutiny of CHRAJ. Quayson said the Commission goes about its duty according to the dictates of the law explaining as well that with equal protection as Appeal Court judges, no one removes a Commissioner of the Commission except on grounds of misconduct which calls for an impeachment.

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Similarly, he noted, the President cannot invoke impeachment and explained that even in the case of impeachment it cannot be abused in any way because the process is elaborate and cumbersome. In an answer to what CHRAJ can do and cannot do, Commissioner Quayson said much as the Commission protects rights of general society, it cannot investigate matters between government and government agencies as well as cases before the court. "We cannot investigate criminal cases, land cases and contracts because they are not purely fundamental rights," he explained.

According to him, CHRAJ basically investigates complaints of violations of fundamental rights and freedoms in both public and private sectors and provide appropriate remedy or redress. CHRAJ reviews policies and laws, which do not comply with human rights provisions in the constitution and other international instruments and advise the government accordingly.

Commissioner Quayson said CHRAJ is also mandated to monitor the State's compliance with its human rights obligations including conditions at the country's prisons and police cells to prevent human rights abuse to inmates. He said his outfit investigates cases of alleged corruption, misappropriation and mismanagement of public funds by public officers, abuse of power and unfair treatment of any person by a public officer in the exercise of official duties and allegations of non-compliance of the provisions of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers among others.

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