Supporters of the opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), protest outside Ghana's Electoral Commission on 9 December 2020. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko via Gallo Images

Legislative and presidential elections

General elections were held in Ghana on 7th December 2020 to elect a president and members of the National Assembly. The presidential elections were won by incumbent president Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) with 51.6 percent of the votes. 

The Ghanaian Police Service said more than 60 incidents of violence were reported, with five people killed. 

Expression

Several incidents of attacks against journalists have taken place in the aftermath of the 7th December general elections: 

  • Journalist for newswatchgh.com Pius Kwanin Asiedu was shot in the leg while he was reporting from the Ablekuma Central Collation Centre in Accra on 8th December 2020 and was rushed to hospital where he underwent surgery. Violent clashes, which included gunshots, occurred following heated arguments between agents of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC). Another journalist, Doreen Ampofo of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, was injured in the same incident when a member of a political party mistook her for an official from the Electoral Commission and threw stones at her. One person was arrested and charged on accusations of having fired a gun. 
  • On 9th December 2020, NDC supporters attacked Laud Adu-Asare and Sandra Obiribea, journalists for Ghanaweb.com, at the party's headquarters while they were covering a press conference. The perpetrators accused the media outlet of being biased against NDC. Adu-Asare had a bruised arm, and some of his clothes were torn. Equipment was reportedly also stolen. 
  • In Kumasi, Pure FM reporter Osei Kwadwo Ambassador was attacked by NDC supporters on 9th December 2020, who accused Angel Broadcasting Network (ABN), of which Pure FM is part, of being biased. Ambassador's phone was seized during the attack.
  • Isaac Worlanyo Wallace of Rainbow Radio was reported as having been assaulted at NPP headquarters by the party's supporters. Wallace's tablet was reportedly smashed and he was locked up at the office. 

In addition, several journalists have been subjected to threats, including death threats: 

  • Manasseh Azure Awuni, a freelance investigative journalist, said he had received death threats in an email on 25th December following the publication of an opinion piece on the outcome of Ghana's elections. In a statement calling Ghanaian Police to investigate the death threats, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) said that it had received 'similar reports of death threats against other journalists across the country by politically-connected persons'. 
  • Several journalists from the Multimedia Group - Evans Mensah, Winston Amoah, Philip Osei-Bonsu, Gifty Andoh-Appiah and Israel Laryea - were subjected to online threats following the reporters' coverage of the general elections. The Multimedia Group has petitioned the police to investigate the threats. 
  • In the aftermath of the general elections, threats to journalists continued, as documented by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA). On 5th January 2021, an unknown individual invaded the premises of the Zylofon FM radio station, in search of radio presenter and musician Abubakar Ahmed, also known as Blakk Rasta, who at that moment was presenting the afternoon programme 'Taxi Driver Show'. The perpetrator managed to disconnect some cables before threatening the radio presenter. 
  • Abdul Hayi Moomen, a presenter for state broadcaster GTV, lodged a complaint with the police at the end of December 2020 after he received threats from a group of individuals. 

Military officers detain three media workers reporting on illegal mining

On 16th January 2021, dozens of military officers detained three staff members of media outlet Joy News at the Apamprama forest reserve, Ashanti Region. The three - journalist Erastus Asare Donkor, camera operator Kofi Asare and driver Michael Sakyi - travelled with Ghana's Environmental Protection Agency to the forest to cover the Agency's work and to report on alleged illegal mining activities. After searching a mining settlement, which showed the presence of the military officers at the settlement, over 30 soldiers arrived and an altercation with members of the Environmental Protection Agency ensued. Soldiers seized a phone and the camera of the media personnel and deleted the footage, while the officers damaged the windscreen and side mirror of their vehicle. The three were released after a few hours after intervention by the Minister of Environment. 

Journalists detained, charged

On 14th December 2020, police officers arrested Oheneba Boamah Bennie, a presenter and commentator for Power FM over Facebook posts on 9th and 10th December 2020 in which Bennie described Ghana's president Nana Akufo-Addo as undemocratic. In a statement, the Ghanaian Police said that Bennie 'insulted and issued a series of threats to the President' and allegedly violated Sections 207 and 208(1) of the Penal Code related to breaches of the peace and the publication of 'false news'. In court documents reviewed by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), authorities accuse Bennie further of 'bringing the judiciary to disrepute…in video and audio recordings published to the entire world', among others. Bennie was released on bail on 16th December 2020. Angela Quintal of CPJ commented: 

“Journalists in Ghana should be free to comment on issues of public interest without fear that they will be summoned by the police and arrested.”

Whatsup News editor-in-chief David Tamakloe was arrested on 7th October 2020 near the offices of the online media outlet. The journalist was charged the following day with publication of false news over a report, published on 8th July 2020, alleging a pre-electoral crisis in New Edubiase, Ashanti Region.The journalist was released on bail on 8th October 2020.

Peaceful Assembly

Police disperse opposition protest against election results

Police officers used water cannon to disperse a protest of opposition supporters at the headquarters of the Electoral Commission on 17th December 2020. The protest, gathering hundreds dressed in black and red, followed the announcement by the Commission that incumbent president Nana Akufo-Addo had won the presidential vote. Police arrested 26 individuals for unlawful assembly, holding of a special event without notification and obstruction. 

Post-election protest ban in Accra

The Accra Regional Police Command obtained a court order prohibiting the opposition NDC from protesting from 20th December 2020 to 10th January 2021. According to a statement from the Police, the court order followed a notification, from a NDC official, to hold daily protests in Accra during that period. The statement further said that the request 'cannot obviously be met by the police in view of ongoing post-election and multi-faceted security operations for the festive season and beyond'.

In a statement, 11 CSOs, including Civic Forum Initiative and the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), called on police to maintain 'a stance of impartiality in all its dealings with political actors' and 'strongly appeal to the Police to work with both the NDC and the NPP to ensure that the democratic rights of their members to peaceful protests are protected, inasmuch as the security of the state and public safety is assured.'.