Upholding rights and contributing to achieving the SDGs: thestory of Human Rights Reporters Ghana

The Human Rights Reporters Ghana (HRRG) was founded in February 2019 with the goal of putting an end to the increasing human rights violations, promoting peace and justice, and empowering women in Ghana and beyond in order to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2030.

 HRRG is a dynamic non-governmental organization that focuses on the defense, advancement, and fulfillment of human rights. It is based in Ghana but has a global reach.

With the goal of advancing the rights of women, girls, children, the aged, persons living with disabilities (PLWDs), and other minority groups, the organization brings together committed and passionate young Ghanaian journalists, news editors, and human rights activists. 

The HRRG team is made up of professionals in a variety of disciplines, including law, journalism, human rights, and social activism. The organization benefits from the diverse team’s wealth of expertise, knowledge, and experience, which increases its effectiveness and impact. 

To accomplish its goals, Human Rights Reporters Ghana uses a variety of strategies, including research, education, documentation, access to justice, advocacy, monitoring, and reporting.

“Society for All Without Discrimination” is the organization’s mission statement, and it complies with Ghana’s legal and constitutional framework as well as international human rights standards. 

The mission of HRRG is to advance and protect the interests of those who value basic human rights, such as the right to life, the right to free speech, the right to education, the right to one’s own dignity, the right to a fair trial, and other such rights.

In response to the rise in kidnappings in Ghana, the HRRG launched a nationwide sensitization campaign dubbed “the KTT Project” in 2019 to raise awareness of three key issues: kidnapping, teenage pregnancies, and tramadol/drug abuse. 

The campaign team has successfully reached over 60,000 beneficiaries since the program’s launch in July 2019, in particular schoolchildren, parents, and youth groups in local communities and places of worship across three regions of Ghana.

The group has received widespread praise for its commitment and passion for its activism roles in protecting and ending rights abuses in Ghana and beyond from individuals, organizations, and institutions both inside and outside Ghana.

The positive feedback that was received inspired the HRRG team of outstanding volunteers to go above and beyond to expand the campaign to include all 16 regions of Ghana.

 It also opened the door for the HRRG to be nominated among the ten (10) organizations from across Africa that were named finalists for the 2020 Africans Rising Activism Award in the category of Movement of the Year.

Surprisingly, the HRRG, which finished the competition in fourth place, was the only advocacy organization from Ghana to be selected for this prestigious award. 

The same year also saw Mr. Joaquin Boston, the Chairman of the International Board of Global Actors and Business for Sustainability, announce that Human Rights Reporters Ghana had been shortlisted among other initiatives across 126 countries to compete in the final round of the 5th Global Entreps Awards. 

In August 2019, the group’s Executive Director, Joseph Kobla Wemakor, in his advocacy effort sheds light on a young female head porter (Kayayo) who needs help to enroll in the university to become a nurse after securing excellent WASSCE results (aggregate six A’s and two B’s) with no help to go back to school to achieve her dream.

Only a few hours after Ms. Salah’s story went viral online, Mr. Wemakor started getting calls from a variety of influential people, institutions, and organizations in Ghana and beyond.  Following that, he receives a call from the vice president of Ghana, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, asking that he meet with him to discuss how she can be helped to realize her dream. 

The decision by Abudu Salah to accept a full scholarship from the Venezuelan government in order to study medicine at one of the country’s top universities marked a turning point in her life. Since then, Mr. Wemakor has had a significant impact on Ms. Abudu Salah’s life and brought about change. 

Since then, Mr. Wemakor has had a significant impact on Ms. Abudu Salah’s life and brought about change. It is obvious that God used Wemakor to bless many people in addition to Ms. Salah. If there is anything to be proud of, it is without a doubt this important accomplishment for Human Rights Reporters Ghana. 

In addition, the HRRG team, through its relentless pursuit towards human rights defense, led by its Executive Director, Joseph Kobla Wemakor, mounted a strong media advocacy campaign on the case of human rights abuses in South Korea during the era of the first outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw the release of an 89-year-old man who is the founder and leader of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus Christ, a growing minority and ‘unpopular’ church in Korea, from detention.

Mr. Lee Man-hee was scapegoated, unjustly arrested, and detained for his alleged involvement in withholding information from the South Korean government and authorities about church members, which they claimed is harming the fight against the pandemic.

The act of injustice, which is contrary to international human rights law, was greeted with wide condemnation by activists, journalists, including various civil society groups, the United Nations, and international organizations alike globally.

The incident also witnessed over 220,000 Shincheonji believers around the world who were equally harassed by the South Korean government. In addition, over 5,500 cases of human rights violations, including coercive conversion, have been reported since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in South Korea.

Mr. Wemakor, a braver man supported by his able team, actually got to the bottom of the situation and stood up to make justice right in the issue. 

He boldly spoke up in his writings and articles, press statements, and virtual meetings to inform the international community of the truth. Through efforts and actions on research and writings on the case of the church, the grace of God moved in, and Mr. Lee Man-hee was freed.

The noble agenda was backed by national, regional, and global stakeholders who joined the campaign at various stages to garner support and momentum, which put pressure on the South Korean authorities to act. The HRRG team is indeed forever grateful to all stakeholders and collaborators who supported its effort towards achieving this hard-won fight.

As a recognition for good deeds, the HRRG Executive Director was honored in October 2020 to be featured with an update on upholding women’s rights after the lockdown on a glossy page of the International ‘Business Woman Magazine’ which happens to be the first Ukrainian magazine accredited by the European Parliament, with offices in 24 countries.

HRRG in its unrelenting fight against child abuse in Ghana and beyond on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, a troubling news about a 7-year-old girl who was brutally assaulted, tortured and abused by her father over an allegation that she was caught shoplifting a biscuit from a shop.

The sad incident shook the foundation of the entire nation and beyond, but barely a few minutes after the news story surfaced online, it pushed the Ghanaian authorities, including the Department of Social Welfare and the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, to move into action, leading to the rescue of the child.

The positive feedback received was a testament to another good deed by Human Rights Reporters Ghana, which is highly commendable. Undoubtedly, this is no mean feat for the vibrant global human rights group.

As a mark of outstanding contribution to the promotion of human rights in Ghana, the good deeds again warranted yet another recognition which went the way of the leader of the global advocacy group. The honor this time came from AfricanDefenders, a Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network based in Kampala, Uganda hosted by DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project who nominated Wemakor for the 2023 African Human Rights Defenders Shield Award, a prestigious award that recognizes the efforts of individuals working to promote and protect human rights in Africa. 

His nomination for the coveted accolade is not only a recognition of his hard work and dedication but also a call to action for others to join the fight for human rights in Ghana and beyond. 

The HRRG, whose mandate revolves around whistleblowing and shedding light on critical human rights violations and social issues that confront the citizenry so the authorities can be informed to take action and resolve them, particularly the school children, again broke the news about an unwarranted abuse and merciless canning by teachers that caused bodily harm to nineteen (19) final year students of Annor Adjaye Senior High School at Ezilibo of the Jomoro District Western Region.  

The offense for which the students were tortured, brutally caned, and hurt by their teacher allegedly was their lateness for the Sunday morning church service. The nefarious act of injustice perpetrated against the victims, which blatantly violates their rights, was met with public outcry and condemnation when the issue was brought to light by the HRRG.  

Since the story was told, it moved the Director General of the Ghana Education Service (GES) to set up a 4-member committee, which was deployed to the school to investigate the matter.

The committee report on the matter established wrongdoing on the part of the teachers and pointed out their approach to handling the situation as inappropriate and unprofessional.

Through the relentless efforts of the HRRG, justice has been served to the victims of the brute canning, as the teachers who misbehaved have been punished and made to sign a bond of good behavior according to the disciplinary action code of the GES.

Human Rights Reporters Ghana’s work is crucial to achieving the SDGs, particularly those related to human rights, justice, education, and the rule of law. The organization’s efforts contribute to SDG 16, which seeks to promote peace, justice, and inclusive societies. Human Rights Reporters Ghana’s activities also support other SDGs, including SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 5 (Gender Equality), and SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities).

Human rights are fundamental to every human being, and their protection and promotion are vital aspects of human dignity.

The United Nations emphasized the importance of safeguarding and defending human rights when developing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Upholding human rights requires strategic and relentless efforts, and it is the work of organizations such as Human Rights Reporters Ghana (HRRG).

In fulfillment of its mandate, HRRG carries out research into various areas, including civil and political rights, economic, social, and cultural rights, and women’s rights.

The information gathered from this research is used to develop reports that highlight human rights violations and provide recommendations to relevant actors.

These reports serve as a platform for advocacy and can be used by policymakers, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders to influence policy and decision-making processes.

The organization also monitors human rights violations by various actors, including state agencies, private organizations, and individuals.

Human Rights Reporters Ghana provides legal assistance to victims of human rights violations, including assistance with legal representation, referrals to support services, and advocacy on their behalf. 

This support is critical, especially for vulnerable individuals such as women, children, persons with disabilities, and marginalized groups.

In addition to its research and documentation work, Human Rights Reporters Ghana engages in advocacy to influence policy and decision-making processes. Through its advocacy efforts, the organization has successfully contributed to the development of policies and laws that protect human rights and improve the human rights situation in Ghana.

Human Rights Reporters Ghana’s advocacy efforts have also helped to increase public awareness and support for human rights issues.

HRRG has achieved significant success in its work to promote and defend human rights in Ghana. Some of the notable achievements include the following:

1. Contributed towards the development and passage of the Right to Information Act in Ghana, which guarantees citizens access to information held by public institutions.

2. Highlighting and exposing human rights violations, including police brutality, arbitrary detention, and extrajudicial killings.

3. Advocating for the rights of women and promoting gender equality, including through the provision of legal assistance and support to victims of gender-based violence.

4. Advocating for the rights of children particularly victims of brute canning emanating through all forms of corporal punishment which caused bodily harm, abuse the rights and lowered the dignity of students.

5. Increasing public awareness and participation in human rights issues through various campaigns, including the #KTTProject, which seeks to end kidnappings, teenage pregnancy and drug abuse but equally set about creating a deeper education on human rights to bring about a cultural change. 

In carrying out its duties, the HRRG is presently engaged in series of advocacy campaigns in Ghana aimed at bringing about change through the partnership with the Ghana Civil Society Organization Platform on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its network of members spanning over 400 organizations, local, national and international non-governmental organizations, and religious groups including the Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch) and other stakeholders and civil society organizations in the country and beyond to achieve the following:

 1. Address the issues of period poverty while advocating for the total removal of import tax on sanitary/ menstrual hygiene products in Ghana.

2. Advocating for the establishment of a Public Health Emergency Fund (PHEF) in Ghana to achieve Epidemic Preparedness (EP) Response Financing.

3. Advocating towards the urgent passage of the affirmative action bill into law to promote gender equality and women empowerment in Ghana.

4. Advocating for the Ghana Government to prioritize urgent abolition of the death penalty and have it struck completely from the country’s statutes.

5. Advocating for press freedom and protection of rights of journalists

6. Advocating for the government to create better policies that protect the rights and welfare of cocoa farmers against exploitation and provide them with access to essential resources.

7. Advocating for the ban on single-use plastics and promotion of proper handling of waste products to avert environmental pollution in Ghana.

8. Advocating for an end to child labour/modern slavery in Ghana.

9. Advocating for the protection of the rights of persons living with disabilities (PLWDs) in Ghana. 

10. Advocating for an end to police brutality/violence in Ghana.

HRRG is a member of various civil society groups, coalitions and networks operating at the national, regional and international levels including the Ghana Civil Society Organizations Platform on Sustainable Development Goals, Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Amnesty International Ghana Global Network of Civil Society Organizations on Disaster Reduction (GNDR) African Network of Young Leaders for Peace and Sustainable Development (ANYL4PSD), the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Network of Journalists (IPPF) and the Bureau of African Peace (BAP).

Human Rights Reporters Ghana is the Co-convener for both the Youth Sub-platform and the SDG3 Sub-platform of the Ghana Civil Society Organizations Platform on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the National Focal Person (taskforce) for the African Network of Young Leaders for Peace and Sustainable Development (ANYL4PSD), a Pan-African Network working across Africa committed to climate justice, biodiversity conservation and restoration in order to ensure that the continent’s natural resources are sustainably managed to bring about positive ecological and socio-economic transformation for communities. 

Joseph Wemakor

Our team supports this kind of practises and also recognises the fine results

Joaquín Boston

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