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CSOs are important to building strong democracies

Accra, July 7, GNA – Officials of the European
Union have reiterated the important role of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs),
including the media, in building a strong democracy.

Speaking at a forum on CSOs’ contribution to
nation building, Mr Stavros Lambrinidis, European Union Special Representative
on Human Rights, who is on an official visit to Ghana, said although Ghana was
not a paradise for human rights, successive governments had made enormous
strides in guaranteeing these rights through effective collaboration with civil
society organisations.

“Ghana is a strong democracy with challenges
and the European Union will provide the needed support to address these
challenges”, he stated, in a statement copied to the GNA.

Mr Lambrinidis stated that democracy did not
end with the counting of the ballots.

According to him, thriving democracies
required strong, independent and self-sufficient civil society organizations,
to protect and promote human rights and commended Ghana’s civil society organisations
for their efforts so far.

The forum was organized by the European Union
Delegation to Ghana, on the theme “Civil Society, a strategic partner for
stability and governance in Ghana” and formed part of the EU’s framework on the
“Good Human Rights Stories” initiative.

The initiative is aimed at sharing good
practices as well as enhancing cooperation on Human Rights issues, and
emphasized the role that civil society organizations play in promoting stable
democracies for peace and development.

In an address, Mr William Hanna, the EU
Ambassador to Ghana, commended the extent to which freedom of the press had
been guaranteed in Ghana.

He said, “Ghana is one of the few countries
where one can make open declarations on the freedom of the press”.

He emphasised that; “the EU believes in
sustained engagement with civil society organizations in line with the Cotonou
Agreement which states that an empowered civil society is a crucial component
of any democratic system”.

Mr Albert Kan Dapaah, Minister for National
Security, who represented the Government, emphasised the critical role of Civil
Society Organisations in the democratic governance of the country.

He said it was very important for the
government of any country to be held accountable and no group was better placed
to do this than civil society organisations, including the media.

“The most important institution that can help
us get governments to be accountable is civil society”, he emphasized.

As part of the forum, civil society
organizations in Ghana shared their experiences including success stories and
obstacles, the state of their interaction with Government institutions, whether
their experiences could be replicated elsewhere and the way forward.

They included; Basic Needs Ghana, Women in Law
and Development, Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) Ghana, Ghana Integrity
Initiative, The Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) and
the Legal Resources Centre, Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) among
others.    

The report on the forum would be presented
during the Africa-EU Summit meeting scheduled for November in Abidjan.

GNA

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