Journalists attacked during protest of ruling party supporters

Expression

On 4th December 2017, the Electronic Communications Tribunal, which was established to handle appeals of decisions made by the National Communications Authority (NCA), ordered the NCA to halt its sanctions of some radio stations. The order comes in response to an appeal from the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), wherein nine of its members have been affected by recently- imposed NCA sanctions. As previously reported on the Monitor, the NCA shut down nine broadcasting stations and fined another 97 due to their failure to renew their authorisation three months prior to its expiration date. 

Security personnel at the headquarters of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Accra allegedly attacked four journalists on 21st December 2017. The four journalists from the media outlets Ghanaweb.com, Citi FM and TV3 were covering a protest by aggrieved NPP members from the Ellembelle in western Ghana who were demanding a clean register for the internal party elections in January 2018. The Ghana Journalists Association condemned the attack and urged NPP leaders to call on their members to cease physical attacks on journalists in the country. The Media Foundation for West Africa petitioned the National Chairman of the ruling party on 24th January to “ensure that the party formally condemns the incident, apologizes to the victims and punishes the perpetrators”. Following the petition, the Police Criminal Investigations Department of Accra opened an investigation into the attack against the four journalists which has yet to be concluded. 

On 23rd February 2018, a police officer assaulted broadcasting journalist Christopher Kevin Asima in Upper East region. Asima was covering a devastating fire in Bolgatanga, which consumed seven business centres, and was manhandled when he exchanged words with a police officer on how to communicate with the crowd surrounding the fire. Asima was dragged by police officers to a police van after the police commander ordered him handcuffed, but he was released as bystanders decried the police action. The police officer made a public apology after Asima lodged a complaint with the Bolgatanga Municipal Police Commander. 

An alleged supporter of the ruling NPP party has threatened TV3 and 3FM journalist Kwakye Afreh-Nuamah for criticising and questioning the competence of the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation Koffi Adda. Afreh-Nuamah recorded one threatening telephone call by someone claiming to work for the NPP headquarters, saying among other things:

"If you dare criticize Kofi Adda again, I will teach you a bitter lesson. I will make sure you are bedridden. I will make sure you are crippled for life".

The Minister of Water and Sanitation commented on the threats, saying that although he does not support threats against journalists, he questions the integrity of the journalist. Afreh-Nuamah filed an official complaint with the Nima Divisional Police in Accra. The Media Foundation for West Africa condemned the threats against Afreh-Nuamah and called on the police to thoroughly investigate the matter as well as to put in place measures to ensure the journalist's safety. 

Peaceful Assembly

On 16th December 2017, police officers dispersed a protest organised by the Ghana-Togo solidarity movement in the Kawukudi Park in Accra and arrested at least 19 people. The protest sought to draw attention to the political crisis in Togo. Among those arrested included Bernard Mornah, chairman of the People’s National Convention, and Irbad Ibrahim, spokesperson for the pro-Togolese opposition solidarity movement in Ghana. Police stated that the demonstrators were arrested for "unlawful assembly and engaging in acts which were likely to occasion the breach of the peace". Although the organisers notified the local authorities of the protest and the police initially indicated there would be security, the organisers were asked to suspend the protest based on information received by the police of a planned counter protest. The 19 arrested protesters were released later in the day on bail. Mornah sued the Inspector General of Police for his unlawful arrest. As previously reported on the Monitor, police officers arrested 26 Togolese nationals in October 2017 for staging an unlawful protest over the political situation in their country. 

According to reports, police physically assaulted protesters during a picket at the Ministry of Health on 19th February 2018. The Unemployed Nurse Assistants Association 2016 peacefully protested against the lack of employment after having completion public nurse training. The Association claims the assault occurred although it had the notified the police and Ministry of Health about the plan to protest.

On 13th March 2018, security officers dispersed a protest of gold mine workers in the Tarkwa Mine of Goldfields in Ghana's western region, allegedly using tear gas and firing guns when the protest turned violent. The gold mine protest was part of a larger protest led by the Ghana Mine Workers Union to call attention to the impending layoff of over 2,000 employees at Goldfields. The peaceful protest turned violent following a visit from the Tarkwa Municipality Chief Executive. Security forces subsequently dispersed the protesters using tear gas, pepper spray and gunshots. Several people sustained injuries and security forces arrested some protesters.