Monday, July 24, 2006

As I draw nearer to the end!!

The following three weeks have been filled with Office work, research and report writing. Still waiting to get reports from the variuos regions to complete the newsletter for July, I must say getting information from the regions has been a game of cat and mouse. I received praises for the research work I conducted for Ms. Bossman on the Roles and Efffectiveness of National Human Rights Institutions. In this case I guess my research abilities proved faithful (I did not attend one of the best research institutions in the U.S in vain). I also turned in research work on prostution. I will soon be presenting to Ms. Bossman my powerpoint presentation on Economic Social and Cultural Rughts. So basically the past three weeks has literally been at my computer trying so hard to deal with the slow internet as I also try to get work done.

I have been having a lot of fun recently however. There has suddenly been an influx of interns, in totall there is about 6 of us now, when I started I was the only intern so suddenly I have been having very entertaining lunch breaks as we all (interns) share our experiences in coping with the new life here in Ghana.

Well, my internship is about to end officially on July 31st. However, I will still be hanging out in Ghana most likely still coming to CHRAJ and helping out if needed. This will give me the opportunity to do further travels within Ghana or perhaps even to other West African countries, we shall see how events play out.

I will be required at the end of my internship to turn in a report to Mr. Lartey my supervisor, I have started working on this report and will be turning it in soon as it is completed.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Fifth and Six Weeks @ CHRAJ

OK so I am in my seventh week while writing this but I realize I have not been as constant in this blogging thing (give me a break this is my first time). Well since the world cup disappointment for Ghana, the atmosphere has been much quieter, however the Ghanaian spirit has not been lost. They are proud of their players and I support that setiment.

So back to work.

Since its inception, the Anti-Corruption Unit of CHARJ, now Anti-Corruption Department has been investigating allegations of Corruption and Abuse of power among public officials as a way of protecting the Ghanaian community against any form of corruption.

In line with this policy the Anti-Corruption Department held its pilot training program on Corruption for Anti-Corruption Officers and Investigators from Thursday 15th June to Friday 16th June 2006. The Training Program on Corruption aimed to: Increase knowledge in helping to identify Corruption, Strengthen the Capacity of the Anti-Corruption Department in handling allegation of Corruption, Consider new strategies to achieve the vision of a corrupt-free environment, Strengthen the coalition of individuals and organizations against corruption, Exchange information and ideas between Professionals, Management and Investigators. I have been developing the report for the Anti-Corruption Training, I should have it completed by the end of the seventh week which will be Friday July 7th.

I was able to visit the courts with Deputy Director of the enforcement Unit Mr. Annan. The session was uneventfull since we were in attendance just to get a date to appear in court again, it was interesting however, to see the proceedings and watch how the lawyers interacted with themselves and the Judge. The old British style court system was all apparent; the Lawyers with their black robes and funny looking white wigs, it was a site worth noting. I managed to get in a few pictures from my camera without being caught. i beleive I would have been held in contempt of the court of I had been caught (The judge did not look very amused), my coleague was given the contempt warning she was told if she laughed in court again she will get the full reward. I don't think I want to know what the full reward is. Altogether this brief trip to the courts was pretty amusing to say the least.

As part of the capacity building frenzy, the CHRAJ's Legal and Investigative Department held its own training, I was slightly releived when I found out I did not have to write a report for this training (I had not even finished the last report). In any case I must say I learn't a lot of legal jargon. Prior to the training we were given decisions on cases to read and I must say I had to read over the decisions at least three times to understand the language. Of-course it was the English language but obviously a different kind of English (Oh lord why do Lawyers love to confuse normal people????). Anyway I figured it out (I guess I graduated from college for a reason).

Well it is now the seventh week. I am still waiting to hear from the Attorney Generals Office so I can finally make my visit to them. I will start working on the internal bulletin for the month of July. I worked on a project for Ms. Bossman realting to the Effectiveness of National Human Rights Institutions; she is using some information I gathered to do a presentation at an ECOWAS (Ecnonomic Community of West African States) meeting on the Effectiveness of such institutions drawing on the Ghanaian example.

I have nearly completed the research on prostitution and will hope to present my findings to Ms. Bossman next week.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Third and Fourth Weeks at CHRAJ

I must say that the work load these two weeks have been quit heavy, however, I am not complaining I am always welcoming new work and experiences, I do not wish to get to any point in this experience where I am scrambling for work to do, so I am enjoying the recent work load.

I am yet to visit the Attorney Generals Office, however, I was able to draft an introduction letter which was signed by Ms. Bossman. I am hoping to be at the Attorney Generals Office during the week of June 19th to follow up on the signing and ratification of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture and gather as much information as possible regarding the process.

On June 7th and 8th I was able to sit in at the Richard Anane hearing. This is an ongoing panel hearing involving allegations of corruption, abuse of office and conflict of interest against Dr. Richard Anane, Minister for Road Transport. Dr. Anane was unable to attend the first day of the hearing he was able to make it the second day and was questioned along with two of his co-workers by CHRAJ, investigations continue and final decisions on the case will be made in July.

I have also been following up on Ghana’s reporting procedures to certain UN documents, as a Human Rights agency CHRAJ role is important in not only getting the government to sign and ratify documents, but to fulfil its reporting obligations. I have also been working on an internal news bulletin which is a forum where all CHRAJ staff can exchange information about activities at the Commission, the bulletin is complete is ready to be distributed to all regional offices.

Acting Commissioner Ms. Bossman will be travelling out of the country and has assigned to me a research project on Prostitution. There have been recent issues in Ghana concerning the ill-treatment of such persons by the police and other public officials, Ghana’s prostitutions laws are unclear, I am to follow up on prostitution laws in some key countries and report back to Ms. Bossman with my findings.

I also had the opportunity to attend a training session for the CHRAJ Anti-Corruption Department. This training is designed to increase knowledge on corruption and how it manifests and also to enhance and strengthen the capacity of the department in investigating such allegations. This two day retreat started on Thursday June 15th and ended on Friday June 16.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Second Week at CHRAJ

My second week at CHRAJ was busy yet rewarding. On 29th May, 2006, Mr. Jean Baptiste Niyizunigero, the Africa Program Officer for the Association for the Prevention of Torture and Mr. Philippe Tremblay Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture Campaign Co-ordinator, arrived for a meeting at the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) main Office Accra. A meeting I was very surprised to be allowed to sit in. The purpose of their visit was to promote Ghana’s ratification and implementation of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT), which will enter into force on 22 June 2006.

My participation involved observing the meeting and taking notes which was to be used in a later report. The report, which I completed the same day was handed over to Mr. Lartey my assistant supervisor for proof reading and then later to Ms. Bossman, my supervisor.

During the week I was introduced formally to the work of the Legal Registry and research departments. I have been able to read over some of the CHRAJ cases and final decisions. This is in preparation for my own experience with live cases.

On Wednesday, May 31st, Mr. Tremblay and Mr. Niyizunigero arrived again at CHRAJ for a panel discussion with local and international NGO’s, Ghanaian State and Law Enforcement officials. According to Ms. Anna Bossman Acting Commissioner of CHRAJ, for the implementation of the Optional Protocol to work effectively, NGO’s Law Enforcement and Government officials need to work together to ensure that Ghana’s commitment to preventing torture is carried out. The meeting ended on an encouraging note with all parties present vowing to ensure that the Optional Protocol if ratified by Ghana would be successfully implemented.

I was have been assigned to work on a research project on Children’s Rights with an

emphasize on Education and Healthcare. I would be spending majority of my time next week hopefully working on this project.

Friday, May 26, 2006

First week at CHRAJ

I started my internship with the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) on May 22nd 2006. My first week at the CHRAJ has been a rather interesting one. I have had the great opportunity of meeting the Acting Commissioner of CHRAJ Ms. Anna Bossman and have emmersed myself in CHRAJ documents as a means of updating myself on the work the organization has accomplished so far. I was introduced to the staff of the variuos departments in CHARJ such as the Legal & Investigative department, Public Education and Anti Corruption, Complaints, Registry and many more. I am in many ways awed at the multi-functionality of this organization. It is this aspect of CHRAJ that perhaps allowes it to be recognized as a reliable institution by international human rights bodies such as Human Rights Watch and many others. I am positive that my time here would be useful and rewarding for my future endevours. So far I have been informed that I will be working closely Ms. Bossman and will have the opportunity to handle cases and complaints. This week I have had the opportunity to research on Human Rights Education, the CHRAJ in the near future will be releasing a Human Rights Educational manual as a way of fulfilling their human rights education mandate, I will hopefully be highly involved in the creation of this manual.