President promises the passage of the long-awaited Right to Information Bill

Expression

During his address at the 2017 Africa Open Data Conference on 20th July in Accra, President Akufo-Addo assured the public that the Right to Information Bill will be passed. This follows a statement made earlier this year in February by Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia that the government is committed to facilitating the passage of the bill this year. The Right to Information Bill in Ghana was initially drafted in 1999 and reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007, and was only presented to Ghana's Parliament in 2010, during which the bill was discussed, referred, moved, but not passed. Such delays in action made many question the existance of the political will to see the bill passed

During the inauguration of the new Board of the National Communication Authority (NCA), Minister of Communications Ursula Owusu Ekuful issued a warning to media outlets in the country on 6th July 2017 that noncompliance of regulations could lead to sanctions ranging from fines to suspensions. As reported by Media Foundation of West Africa (MFWA), the Minister said that over 100 media houses have breached their licensing conditions with cases of "expiration of the authorization, incomplete application for extension or renewal, nonpayment of fees, transfer of licenses to other agencies without prior approval of the National Communication Authority and a range of other issues". 

MFWA and Reporters without Borders launched the Media Ownership Monitor in Ghana on 25th July 2017. The Monitor Ownership Monitor found that:

"a lack of transparency and limited access to ownership information prevail in the media industry in Ghana. Conflicts of interest between media owners and politics, and a weak regulatory system further pose a threat to freedom of expression in the country".

In another incident, Kwaku Manu, a correspondent at radio station Peace FM, was detained for two hours the day after covering a press conference on 27th March organised by aggrieved youth of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Atebubu, Brong Ahafo region. The journalist was accused of writing a false report by the NPP leadership who claimed that the “so-called press conference” did not take place. 

Peaceful Assembly

A series of demonstrations took place between May and August 2017 in Ghana, mainly on issues of employment, service delivery, as well as against corruption. 

On 26th May 2017, Ghanaian citizens participated in a peaceful demonstration in Accra, organised by radio station Adom FM, to protest the rising level of corruption within the government and public service sector. Protesters delivered a petition to the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) demanding an investigation of individuals potentially involved in corrupt activities and the recovery of allegedly stolen public funds. Leaders of the protest also gave the EOCO 310 supporting documents to the petition and promised to stage another protest within three months, should the EOCO not respond to their request. A video clip of the protest can be viewed below. 

On 8th August 2017, unemployed graduate teachers participated in a protest in Accra organised by the Assembly of University Trained Teachers of Ghana over the government’s failure to provide them with jobs since 2011, despite several promises of doing so. In a similar vein, hundreds of unemployed trained nurses from private accredited nursing training institutions gathered on 1st August for a protest at the Ministry of Health demanding to be posted to health facilities in the country. 

On 12th July 2017, Pantang Hospital staff took to the streets to demand a resolution to encroachment on the hospital's land, which they claim will disrupt the hospital's activities. The protest action followed a two-day sit-down strike on 10th and 11th July.

On 22nd May, the Coalition of Allied Health Professionals held an overnight sit-in at Ministry of Health to demand immediate clearance and posting in a position within the country. They resolved to remain in front of the ministry until Friday of that week, when their documents would be cleared, as promised by the deputy health minister.

A protest against high utility bills from the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) on 26th May 2017 in Irate Somanya in the eastern region of the country turned violent. After the ECG offices were vandalised, police arrested Jones Tetteh, believed to be the leader of the protest, which triggered renewed violence with two people injured and two police vehicles set ablaze.