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Ghana

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Last updated on 07.02.2019 at 14:46

Ghana - Overview

Civic space freedoms are constitutionally protected in Ghana and mostly respected in practice.

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Journalist killed amid deteriorating climate for the safety of journalists

Journalist killed amid deteriorating climate for the safety of journalists

On 16th January 2019, two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein - Suale while he was reportedly driving home in Madina, a suburb of Ghana's capital Accra. Suale was a member of Tiger Eye Private Investigations, which was founded and is led by undercover investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas - a pseudonym.

Expression

Killing of investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale 

On 16th January 2019, two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein - Suale while he was reportedly driving home in Madina, a suburb of Ghana's capital Accra. Suale was a member of Tiger Eye Private Investigations, which was founded and is led by undercover investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas - a pseudonym. As previously reported on the Monitor, Anas Aremeyaw Anas had been subject to threats and intimidation, including by a member of Parliament, in the context of the documentary 'Number 12'  on alleged corruption in soccer, which was released in June 2018. The documentary resulted in the dissolution of the Ghana Football Association while FIFA issued a lifetime ban on Kwesi Nyantakyi, the Association's former president, for all FIFA-related football activities. 

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), member of Parliament of the ruling New Patriotic Party, Kennedy Agyapong threatened Suale on national television channel Net 2 TV for his participation in the 'Number 12' documentary and incited violence against him while a photo of Suale was shown on TV.  

Suale told CPJ in September 2018 via Whatsapp: 

"Since my image was published and [the] public was incited against me [...] many people have attempted [to attack me]. These criminals after us are people who are [...] associated with powers that be in Ghana and can do anything and get away with it."

and further: 

"Indeed, it [has] been hinted in some quarters that the very man who published [my image] said he was doing everything possible to quell [my] existence."

Following the murder of Ahmed Hussein-Suale, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) highlighted three critical challenges for the safety of journalists in Ghana: state failure to protect journalists and inaction on attacks of journalists leading to a culture of impunity; inertia on the part of the media; and 'undignified compromises made through backdoor settlements' in some cases of violence against journalists. Over the past four years, MFWA has documented 62 cases of attacks on journalists and media houses in Ghana. 

In a separate incident reported by MFWA, a pastor vandalised equipment in the studio of radio station Hot FM, during Hot FM's programme 'Ghana Must Know'. On 13th December 2018, Reverend Prophet Isaac Owusu Bempah of the Glorious Word and Power Ministry International was invited to the radio programme to respond to previous allegations by another pastor that he, and certain other church leaders, are 'occult prophets'. Isaac Owusu Bempah was angered following the request by the presenter, Justice Kwaku Annato, to perform one of the miracles he is known for, and vandalised an Apple computer and a microphone while swearing and hurling insults towards the presenter. 

Peaceful Assembly

In early December, the Colleges of Education Teachers Association of Ghana (CETAG) called off a strike, which lasted several weeks, after an intervention from the National Labour Commission. CETAG demanded an increase in their market premium and book and research allowances. All 46 Colleges of Education were reportedly affected by the strike. 

On 27th November 2018, customers of Menzgold Company Limited protested in Accra to demand the payment of their investments in the gold-trading company. Customers have been protesting for months after the Securities and Exchange Commission instructed the company to stop their trading operations, and the Coalition of aggrieved Menzgold customers vowed to intensify their protests in 2019. Chairman of the Coalition Timothy Binob said to Citinews

"The Coalition of aggrieved customers of Menzgold have not been involved in the celebration of the season and we are very wild and aggrieved. In our plans for the new and the first week of this year, there is going to be a very massive demonstration again in Kumasi, after Kumasi countless demonstration will follow up in Accra and Tarkwa."

On 8th January 2019, discontented Menzgold customers gathered in Kumasi, capital city of Ashanti Region, to protest. According to media outlet myjoyonline.com, at least three protesters were arrested, while protesters blocked roads and burned tyres. Police said that the protest was illegal as the organisers did not comply with the Public Order Act. 

On 30th October 2018, security officers barred a group of journalists from entering the public gallery of the Parliament due to their t-shirts branded with slogans such as #PassTheRTIBillNow and #PASSITNOW. The journalists are part of the advocacy group Media Coalition on RTI [Right to Information]. As mentioned in previous Monitor updates, there is growing frustration from civil society groups over the failure to pass the Right to Information Bill, which was originally drafted in 1999. 

Association

In December 2018, several anti-corruption CSOs petitioned President Akufo-Addo, the Speaker of Parliament and the Chief Justice to demand more profound measures in the fight against corruption, which they say have stagnated in the past decade in terms of outcomes. Although they lauded the recent adoption of the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (2015-2024) and the establishment of an Office of the Special Prosecutor to fight corruption, the CSOs said Ghana needs to be 'more radical in [our] efforts to achieve results in a short-term if Ghana is to deliver a big blow against corruption'.

Association

The right to freedom of association is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of Ghana although there is no specific legislation related to the formation of civil society organisations.

The right to freedom of association is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of Ghana although there is no specific legislation related to the formation of civil society organisations. According to Article 14 of the Ghana Companies Code 1963, civil society organisations must register with the Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment and must submit annual reports and statements of accounts to the Social Welfare Department. The Ghanaian government generally respects this right as there is no evidence of CSOs being particularly targeted, while human rights defenders operate mostly in a free environment. Under the constitution and the 2003 labour laws, workers have the right to form and join trade unions.

Peaceful Assembly

Article 21(1) of the constitution provides that all persons shall have the right to freedom of assembly, including the freedom to take part in processions and demonstrations.

Article 21(1) of the constitution provides that all persons shall have the right to freedom of assembly, including the freedom to take part in processions and demonstrations. The 1994 Public Order Act governs the exercise of this right. Under the Act, anyone to hold a demonstration in a public place must notify the police of their plans at least five days before the demonstration. Under the Act, the authorities have the power to postpone demonstrations. Section 3 of the law imposes responsibilities on organisers for any damage caused by a demonstration in which they have participated. While the right to freedom of peaceful assembly is mostly respected in practice, the use of excessive force by police during peaceful demonstrations has been documented.

Expression

Freedom of expression is also constitutionally protected in Ghana, however, recent legislation passed by parliament threatens to undermine this protection.

Freedom of expression is also constitutionally protected in Ghana, however, recent legislation passed by parliament threatens to undermine this protection. In December 2015, Parliament enacted regulations requiring prior authorisation from the National Media Commission before content is disseminated. Criminal libel and sedition laws were repealed in 2001, but the publication of false news with intent to ‘cause fear and alarm to the public or to disturb the public peace’ is still criminalised. Journalists are occasionally arrested and harassed for reporting on politically sensitive issues. A regional organisation documented eight violations of freedom of expression during the first quarter of 2016. Access to information legislation has been pending for years.