A Ghanaian journalist and author, Mercy Catherine Adjabeng, is up in arms against the Australian High Commission, Ghana, for what she describes as a gross human rights abuse meted out to her.
Speaking at a press conference at the Accra International Press Centre on Tuesday, August 16, Madam Adjabeng said the Australian High Commission demoted her, as their employee, from Level 5 to Level 4.
She said: “My employment as the Public Affairs and Event Manager at the Australian High Commission was terminated on Monday, August 8. This was as a result of the Australian High Commission’s refusal to honor an agreement to continue my employment at the agreed level reflecting my experience and expertise, expected to be above Level 5.
“They had removed me from that level, demoting me to a Level 4. This demotion came together with treatment that fails the standards set by the Australian High Commission of respect, transparency and community.”
Mercy Catherine Adjabeng said she had resigned on September 30, 2021, but was recalled to take up her position to help streamline the Commission’s operations.
She added that her comeback to the Australian High Commission turned sour with the authorities breaching her human rights.
“On my last day, an Australian member of staff at the Australian High Commission hounded me out of the building, treating me with disrespect, a lack of humanity, and a lack of professionalism,” she said.
Read below the full account:
Human rights Abuse by the Australian High Commission: misrepresentation, unfair and unjust treatment.
My name is Mercy Catherine Adjabeng, I am a Ghanaian journalist, author, Founder of Discovery Teen Magazine, gender advocate and a public relations expert who was recently employed as Public Affairs and Event Manager by the Australia High Commission. This statement is an explanation of events that led to the termination of my appointment with the Australian High Commission, and my call to action as a result of those events.
My employment as the Public Affairs and Event Manager at the Australian High Commission was terminated on Monday 8th August. This was as a result of the Australian High Commission’s refusal to honor an agreement to continue my employment at the agreed level reflecting my experience and expertise, expected to be above Level 5.
They had removed me from that level, demoting me to a Level 4. This demotion came together with treatment that fails the standards set by the Australian High Commission of respect, transparency and community.
For additional clarity and context, I was previously employed by the Australia High Commission under former High Commissioners Andrew Barnes and Gregory Andrews until 30th September 2021, when I resigned.
The High Commission approached me and requested I return to my position, as they had been unable to recruit a replacement, despite advertising and conducting interviews. My initial response was no.
They continued to request my return due to my knowledge, skillset and expertise. I agreed, took on some additional roles and maintained that these reflect and I was paid for it. That was going to be above my previous level that I resigned (Level 5), so it would be above Level 5.
All the while I worked, I continued to request formal confirmation of my new Level status. Despite affirmations that this would be honored, it was not. There were consistent email requests, many reassurances, but no action was taken. When I finally received formal confirmation of my employment, I had been demoted. At the time of the demotion, I had been working as the Public Affairs and Events manager responsible among other things including the following:
- Managing all Mission events- Public Diplomacy, Australia Alumni events as well Australian National days and recognized national events like ANZAC, Australia Day and social events.
- Supporting management by focusing on engagement with interlocutors, programs, policy ideas and engagements to push the Public Diplomacy mandate of the Mission.
- Representing the High Commission at meetings
- Supervising another staff who reports to me
- Promoting the interest and reputation of Australia in West Africa and in the 8 countries of accreditation namely, Burkina Faso, Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Togo
- As the Mission’s Gender focal person, I represented the High Commission on the UN Gender Equality Sector Working Group made up of other Diplomatic Missions, Multinational Organizations and International NGO’s
- I also managed the Mission’s social media (Facebook and Twitter) and website.
On my last day, an Australian member of staff at the Australian High Commission hounded me out of the building, treating me with disrespect, a lack of humanity, and a lack of professionalism.
The Australia High Commission’s actions:-
- Fall foul of Ghana’s labour laws
- Fall foul of Australia High Commission’s standard of treating employees with respect, courtesy and in a professional manner.
- Unfair, unjust and a misrepresentation
As a result of their actions, I am pursuing the following recourse:-
-Using media advocacy to standup, speak up and tell my story
-Petitioning relevant institutions
– Taking Legal action
– Any other legitimate means for redress
I am shocked and appalled by the Australian High Commission’s treatment of a Ghanaian employee, who had served the Commission with commitment, diligence and enthusiasm. I am appalled at the Commission’s disregard for their own commitment to respect and culture given the length of their relationship to Ghana and Ghanaians.
CALL TO ACTION
In sharing these details, I request the following action from the Australia High Commission.
1. An apology
2. Receipt of compensation at the level agreed for my re-engagement
The Australia High Commission prides itself on being among the early missions in sub Saharan Africa, it prides itself on being one of the first countries to recognize Ghana’s independence in 1957. In its treatment of a daughter of Ghana, and a former employee, the Australia High Commission, has fallen foul of its own high standards, its commitment to professionalism, humanity and cultural respect. This is unacceptable. This can be remedied by swift, clear action, and I look forward to such action.