Amnesty International cites Ghana for human rights abuses; LGBTI discrimination, police brutality,
Amnesty International has released its annual report on The State of the World's Human Rights, citing several violations of human rights in Ghana.
The report highlighted issues such as the violation of the right to freedom of expression, police brutality, forced evictions, child labour, discrimination against Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) people, and women's rights.
Freedom of expression
Referencing the 2022 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, the report noted a regression in freedom of expression in Ghana.
"In February, radio host Oheneba Boamah Bennie was sentenced to two weeks in prison and fined GH¢3,000 (USD 243) for contempt of court after he published a video alleging that President Akufo-Addo conspired with judges to influence the 2020 presidential elections," the report said.
"In August the Kumasi Traditional Council in the Ashanti Region ordered the suspension of radio station, Oyerepa FM after it broadcast an interview with an opposition party leader who accused the traditional authority of ignoring illegal mining activities in the region and said he would organise a protest. Three days later, the station was allowed to resume operations after its management apologised".
Excessive use of force
According to the report, there were also several incidents of police officers using excessive force, including one incident in which a group of plain-clothes security officers assaulted a radio presenter and damaged his eardrum when he refused to surrender his phone.
The report recalled that in another incident, protesters attacked a police station during a violent protest in Nkoranza, Bono East Region, leading to the death of a bystander and injuries to at least five other protesters.
The report also highlighted a widespread problem of torture and ill-treatment of individuals by security forces and other authorities.
It detailed several high-profile cases, including that of social activist Oliver Barker-Vormawor, who was charged with treason in February after threatening to stage a coup if parliament passed the electronic levy bill.
Barker-Vormawor alleged that he was beaten for more than three hours by security officials during his arrest and two-month detention, and that he was occasionally held in solitary confinement. He also claimed that police threatened to subject him to enforced disappearance. His case remains pending.
It added that investigative journalist Michael Aidoo was also reportedly subjected to torture and ill-treatment in March, when he was assaulted by soldiers of the Afari Military Hospital for filming an office belonging to the ruling party on the hospital grounds. The soldiers allegedly hit him repeatedly and forced him to do push-ups, including with a block of cement around his waist.
The Amnesty International report also highlighted the persistent practice of chaining people with actual or perceived mental health conditions in traditional healing or faith-based facilities, despite such practices being banned. The organization visited five facilities and observed more than 60 people being held in chains or cages, including children.
The report also noted incidents of forced evictions, including the demolition of hundreds of homes in an informal settlement in Frafraha, located on land belonging to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The residents were given only 48 hours’ notice and were not relocated, leaving them homeless, the report said.
It said discrimination against LGBTI people continued, with a bill pending in parliament that will further criminalize them and introduced prison sentences for anyone expressing support or “sympathy” towards them. Women continued to experience discrimination, with hundreds of women accused of being witches banished to six “witch” camps. In August, seven people were arrested and charged over the deaths of a man and a woman who were forced to drink a concoction made by a priest after they were accused of being witches.
The report said child labour persisted in the country, especially in agriculture, with a documentary by the UK-based Channel 4 television station showing footage of children as young as 10 working with machetes in cocoa farms. In August, 60 Ghanaian children between the ages of five and 17 accused a cocoa producer of violating child labour laws.
The report said while two bills to abolish the death penalty were introduced to Parliament, they were still under consideration at the end of the year. It also noted the pending Affirmative Action Bill, which aimed to address the gender imbalance in the private and public sectors, as well as a draft bill to amend the Criminal and Other Offences Act 1960 (Act 29) to prohibit declaring, accusing, naming, or labelling someone as a witch or employing another person to do so.
The report called on the Ghanaian government to take immediate action to address these issues and ensure the protection of human rights for all citizens.