Several incidents of attacks against journalists have taken place in the aftermath of the 7th December general elections. In addition, several journalists have been subjected to threats, including death threats:
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.
Press Freedom Violations During 2020 Elections in Ghana Must Be Redressed–MFWA https://t.co/mJIqnLtJSj— Media Foundation for West Africa (@TheMFWA) December 18, 2020
Several incidents of attacks against journalists have taken place in the aftermath of the 7th December general elections:
In addition, several journalists have been subjected to threats, including death threats:
Ghanaian soldiers detain 3 @JoyNewsOnTV employees, delete reporting footage— CPJ Africa (@CPJAfrica) January 27, 2021
Authorities in #Ghana must investigate the recent detention of three Joy News staffers, and hold to account the soldiers who interfered with their reporting - @pressfreedom https://t.co/qTNfmLGu3c
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.
Ghana bans all post-poll opposition protests in capital https://t.co/1QjtBHdB53— africanews 😷 (@africanews) December 28, 2020
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.'.