Ghana-based Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice staff hold key workshop tackling child labour

The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) has reported that staff from the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice in Ghana, who have been trained in its practices held a key workshop focused on tackling child labour within the country, writes Neill Barston.

As the non-profit organisation reported, the event held in Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital, saw its participants explore core measures for continuing to combat the core issue of supporting farming communities in ensuring protecting children’s rights in the region, against a backdrop of more than 1.5 million minors across West Africa still reportedly exposed to hazardous labour working in smallholder farming operations.

Significantly, the CHRAJ, which is Ghana’s national human rights institution founded in 1993, has powers to investigate complaints of violations of fundamental rights and freedoms, injustice, corruption, abuse of power and unfair treatment, to investigate alleged violations of fundamental rights and freedoms by non-state actors, and to take appropriate action.

The ICI noted that the the workshop included opening remarks from Mawuli Avutor, the Deputy Director for Public Education at CHRAJ, who represented the Commissioner of CHRAJ Mr Joseph Whittal, explained that it is part of the commission’s mandate to promote and protect the fundamental human rights of all persons, including children engaged inchild labour and forced labour, and that this project is helping to build the capacity of CHRAJ staff to protect the human rights of children and eliminate child labour and forced labour as a shared responsibility.

“We have several new districts with officers who have limited knowledge of child and forced labour and we need them to be trained. Our being part of this training will help us achieve this major need of the commission and enable us to handle issues of child and forced labour, especially in the districts,” Mr. Mawuli Avutor intimated.

Festus Kwadzokpo, Partnership and Capacity Strengthening Manager for ICI-Ghana, who coordinated the training, remarked that the training was to build the capacity of the CHRAJ officers and equip them with the requisite skills and knowledge to handle child labour and forced labour as human rights issues, as CHRAJ exists to create a free and just society where human dignity is protected.

As the ICI added, a series of participatory and illustrative sessions, participants were taken through practical exercises and in depth explanations of the concepts of child and forced labour, as well exploring how CHRAJ trainees could tackle child and forced labour more effectively in their operations.

The Acting Western North Regional Director for CHRAJ, Eric Kumi Ntaah, said the concepts of child labour and forced labour were not always well known and understood in our earlier training workshops. “Especially with forced labour, this is my first time learning about it,” he explained. Referencing the difference between child work and child labour, he added that: “Most people do not adequately understand child labour, and believe that it consists solely of children working, but with this training I have learnt that there are indicators to determine if one is in child labour or not. The training has really given me in-depth knowledge, which I intend to pass on to others through public education in my region.”

The training was part of the project “Tackling Child and Forced Labour in Ghanaian Cocoa and Gold Mining” implemented by ICI, Rainforest Alliance, and Solidaridad as implementing partners with funding from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad). One major objective of this project is to strengthen the capacity of government institutions and local authorities to identify, prevent and address child labour and forced labour which includes strengthening the capacities of social protection service providers, attorneys and prosecutors at the national level to protect the human rights of children and persons involved in forced labour.

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