Accra, July 6, GNA - Mr Stavros Lambrinidis, the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights, has lauded Ghana’s democratic credentials.
He said Ghana’s democratic experiment, which had so well often been cited as a model democracy for Africa and the rest of the world was worth emulating.
“I believe rightly so. Ghana has a very vibrant civil society that comports itself very well and a very vibrant press,” Mr Lambrinidis gave the commendation in during a European Union – Civil Society Forum in Accra.
The forum, which was on the theme: “Civil Society, A Strategic Partner for Stability and Governance in Ghana,” was attended by leading think tanks in the country.
Among the dignitaries, which graced the occasion were Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, the Minister of National Security and Mr William Hanna, the European Union Ambassador.
The representatives of the civil society organisations (CSOs), who took part in the day’s forum include Dr Franklin Oduro, the Head of Research and Programmes and Deputy Director of the Centre for Democratic Development – Ghana; Professor Ransford Gyampo, a senior lecturer at the Political Science Department, University of Ghana, and a Research Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA); and Ms Daphine Lariba Nabila, Executive Director, Legal Resources Centre (LRC).
The rest are Madam Abigail Edem Hunu of Women in Law and Development in Africa (WIDAF), Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, the Associate Executive Director of Wacam; Mrs Mary Awelana Addah, the Programmes Manager of Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) and Sheikh Areemeyaw Shaibu of the Office of the National Chief Imam.
Mr Lambrinidis noted that the effective collaboration between the Government and the media would go a long way to benefit all Ghanaians.
“This is inspiring, but this is not to say that Ghana is the paradise for human rights. Europe is neither. But it is to say in order to be able to have best practices we need open consultation, co-operation monitoring and criticisms,” he stated.
He called for the strengthening of CSOs in Ghana to enable them play the roles effectively in the nation’s socio-economic development.
On democracy and elections, Mr Lambrinidis said: “I have been to many countries in the world in the world, where the impression was that democracy ends with the ballot box. So we go, we vote, someone gets selected and someone gets all the power and in many four-five years we have another election but in between our democracy ended with the voting.”
He explained that democracy did not end at the ballot box, but rather should be consolidated after the elections.
Mr Kan-Dapaah called for the strengthening of state accountability institutions such as the Office of the Auditor General’s Department and the Commissioner for Human Rights and Administrative Justice.
He said CSOs were in the best place to play their roles as watch dogs of democracy, because they did not depend on government for funding.
He urged them to be proactive in the discharge of their responsibilities and to expose all wrongdoings and corruption in government.
Mr Hanna said the forum was held to enable the participants learn about the role of CSOs in deepening Ghana’s democratic dispensations and human rights.