Judicial review and the enforcement of human rights : the red and blue lights of the judiciary of Ghana
Atupare, Peter Atudiwe
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Constitutional democracy requires a constitutionalisation of Human Rights and the empowerment of judiciaries to enforce and protect such rights. In Ghana, these requirements have been put in place by the 1992 Constitution. Human Rights have been constitutionalised and the courts granted specific powers of Judicial Review to enforce the values of these rights by policing the actions of the legislature and the executive branches of Government. In response, the Judiciary has done a great deal through the power of Judicial Review to protect Human Rights in the country. It has developed a corpus of Human Rights jurisprudence which individuals and institutions can rely on for rights claims and protection. However, its role is not without blemish. This work seeks to discover the successes as well as the failures of the Judiciary of Ghana in enforcing Human Rights. As a theoretical prelude to the entire work, I claim that the main juridical basis to legitimate Judicial Review lies in the courts duty to enforce a higher body of law grounded in rights. On the basis of this claim, the work argues that while the Judiciary did play a constructive role in the promotion, enforcement and sustenance of Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms in the country, it has not adopted a consistent approach in giving all Human Rights equal weight. A generous reception has been given to Civil and Political Rights, while Social-Economic Rights have not been sympathetically considered. This has generated a gap in Ghana’s Human Rights jurisprudence, and negated the values upheld by the postwar global Human Rights constituency - of which Ghana is a member. To avert the creation of Judicial determinism which will hold back the realisation of Socio-Economic Rights in Ghana, this work urges the Judiciary to accord equal respect to all Rights by adopting a purposive approach in deciding all rights claims.