Journalists intimidated and detained for speaking out in Ghana
On 23rd September, members of the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) arrested Ghanaian-Lebanese author Fadi Dabbousi upon his arrival from Lebanon. The journalist is well known for his criticism of President John Mahama and has posted remarks on social media about the President's relations with the daughter of a prominent king, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. While the BNI are yet to release a statement, Accra-based Joy FM reported that 'Dabbousi was arrested because he has consistently made offensive and scalding comments against President John Mahama in articles.' Mr. Dabbousi was detained by authorities for 48 hours without access to legal counsel.
On 5th September, a journalist from the Daily Express newspaper, Fred Sarpong was arrested and detained for taking pictures of a policeman who was allegedly receiving a GH¢ 5 bribe from a bus driver. According to reports, police officers assaulted Sarpong before taking him to Tesano police station in Accra where he was held until news of his arrest began to circulate widely.
In the past two months, Ghanaians’ right to peaceful assembly has been generally well respected during a number of protests.
Students and employees at the University of Ghana gathered in public to call for the removal of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi from their campus. Protesters cited his allegedly racist attitudes toward black people during his time in South Africa as unforgivable. An online petition lists Gandhi’s use of the pejorative term kaffir, as well as letters written by the Indian independence leader during his time in South Africa as indicative of his 'racist identity.' The petition goes on to state:
'We can do the honourable thing by pulling down the statue. It is better to stand up for our dignity than to kowtow to the wishes of a burgeoning Eurasian super-power. Some harm has already been done by erecting the statue. We have failed the generation that look up to us, namely our students.'
In early October, authorities revealed plans to move the statue after the petition calling for its removal gathered 1,700 signatures.
On 9th September, nursing students in the upper East region of Ghana, staged a protest during a visit of the Vice President. Their protest was driven by the suppression of their allowances by the government. Finally on 14th September, a record crowd of over 1,000 people from Bolga-Sherigu staged a public demonstration, to protest against the lack of electricity in the region.