UN/GHANA: UK Commits Itself To Defend Human Rights
In a statement read on his behalf at the International Human Rights celebration in Accra, Mr Ki-Moon noted that no country was free of discrimination and called for concerted efforts to deal with the problem.
December 10 is International Human Rights Day, marking the anniversary of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Genocide Conventions.
This year's celebration is on the theme: "Embrace Diversity; End Discrimination" and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) organized a programme to mark the day in Ghana.
Mr Ki-Moon noted: "No country is free from discrimination. We see it everywhere, in many forms: old and new, covert and blatant, public and private. It may appear as institutionalized racism, as ethnic strife, as episodes of intolerance and rejection, or as an official national version of history that denies the identity of others."
He said discrimination targeted individuals and groups that were vulnerable to attack: the disabled, women and girls, the poor, migrants, minorities, and all those who are perceived as different.
The UN Secretary General said these vulnerable people were frequently excluded from participating in the economic, political, cultural and social lives of their communities.
"The bigotry that stigmatizes and excludes them can be exploited by extremists. In some countries, we are witnessing the rise of a new politics of xenophobia.
"But these victims of discrimination are not alone. The United Nations is standing with them, committed to defending the rights of all, and particularly the most vulnerable. That is our identity and our mission."
The international human rights community continues to counter bias and hatred. Public awareness has led to global treaties offering legal protection from discrimination and unequal treatment.
But abstract commitments are not enough. We must continue to confront inequality and intolerance wherever they are found, Mr Ki-Moon said.
"On Human Rights Day, I invite people everywhere, at all levels, to join the United Nations and human rights defenders around the world in the fight against discrimination."
Mr Emile Francis Short, Commissioner of CHRAJ, expressed concern about the observance of the right to education especially within the framework of the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education.
Other areas of concern are the implementation of the capitation Grant, the School Feeding Programme, inadequate education facilities, challenges of persons with disabilities, frowning upon the Ghana Education Service blue print on corporal punishment and bullying and harassment of students.
The Commission's report also expressed reservation about minimal information about maternal and infant mortality, abuse of rights of persons living with HIV and AIDS, and abuse of children's rights - child defilement, trafficking, labour and deprivation of children's rights to recreation.
Mr Short condemned harmful cultural practices, which include harmful widowhood rites, female genital mutilation, trokosi, witch camps and hindrances to inheritance.
The Commission recommended that stakeholders ensured strict adherence to the laws and international conventions and protocols to which that Ghana was signatory.
SOURCE: Ghana News Agency
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