As the country searches for a breakthrough for mass adoption of Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms in settlement of disputes at all levels of the society, the secret of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in achieving a high mediation success rate has been uncovered.
CHRAJ has been so far the single largest organisation with the highest mediation outcomes, and its high success rate serves as a guide for the ADR industry in Ghana and Africa in general.
It is not a traditional ADR outfit, but with its mandate as an ombudsman receiving and dealing with complaints about the functioning of public institutions and providing redress for grievances, mediation is naturally used to settle complaints.
Its statistics indicate that on the average since 2000, the Commission receives an average of between 12,000 to 13,000 complaints per year nationwide, out of which 95 percent of these complaints are addressed through mediation with a closure rate of about 87 percent.
Throughput time for resolving complaints which are mostly concerned with the maintenance of children; property distribution; landlord and tenant etc. is between two weeks upon receipt of a complaint to a month.
In comparison, the Court-Connect ADR Programme of the Judiciary Service which is present in some 87 courts nationwide, record an average of 3,582 cases since 2017, recording an average closure rate of 49 percent.
The secret to CHRAJ’s high closure rate is the free nature of its mediation services, encouraging more people, especially workers in the public sector, to use that platform to seek redress.
According to Mr Joseph Whittal, Commissioner of CHRAJ, the very inexpensive and informal structure of Commission’s mediation system, offers it the advantage that inures to the benefit of the citizenry, especially the vulnerable in society.
In an interaction with ADR Daily, Mr Whittal said that considering the weaknesses of the court system, or the difficulties people go through accessing the courts, the Commission adjudication system has been designed to avoid the payment of filing fees and the technical application.
“The system is designed in such a way that it is easy to approach the Commission for your case to be heard for free,” he said.
“Freeness is the bottom of the advantage we have,” he said, adding that it is unlike the other mediation facilities where parties would be required to pay some fees.
With offices in over 100 districts and some 300 staff investigators/mediators, he said the Commission is using mediation and ADR in general as a key mechanism for improved access to justice.
As part of its collaborative efforts, the Commission, he said refers labour cases without human rights implications to the National Labour Commission for redress.
However, the absence of the Labour Commission in all the districts, he noted, leaves CHRAJ with no option than to seek the mandate of Labour Commission to settle those disputes.
He called for professional ADR training of Human Resource Managers to enable them to be active in settling workplace disputes.
That, he said, would ensure that such disputes are managed efficiently and prevented from escalating into conflicts, and travelling outside the organisation for redress.
He lauded the progress of the ADR industry in Ghana but noted there was a need for all stakeholders, especially the government to do more to advance the national structure for ADR practice.
By Nii Adotey/adrdaily.com