There were several violations of the right to freedom of expression and police use of excessive force. Forced evictions continued. Two bills to abolish the death penalty were introduced to parliament. A bill further criminalizing LGBTI people remained pending. Women continued to experience discrimination. Child labour was reported.
Freedom of expression
The 2022 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index 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 GHS 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.
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 organize a protest. Three days later, the station was allowed to resume operations after its management apologized.
Excessive use of force
Various incidents were reported of police officers using excessive force.
On 3 February a group of plain-clothes security officers assaulted a radio presenter, reportedly damaging his eardrum, when he refused to surrender his phone. The presenter had filmed the officers escorting handcuffed suspects in Takoradi.
On 17 May protesters attacked a police station during a violent protest in Nkoranza, Bono East Region. The police fired shots, killing a bystander. At least five protesters sustained injuries including gunshot wounds.
On 13 June the media reported that police used tear gas and fired warning shots into the air to disperse a student protest in the Ashanti Region. At least 25 students were treated for respiratory issues and other injuries. The government denied that any live shots were fired at the students. An investigation was opened and three police officers were disciplined as a result.
Torture and other ill-treatment
In February, social activist Oliver Barker-Vormawor was charged with treason after he threatened to stage a coup if parliament passed the electronic levy bill. He alleged that, during his arrest and two-month detention, he was beaten for more than three hours by security officials, occasionally held in solitary confinement and that the police threatened to subject him to enforced disappearance. His case was still pending at the end of the year.
In March, investigative journalist Michael Aidoo was reportedly assaulted and tortured by soldiers of the Afari Military Hospital for filming an office belonging to the ruling party on the hospital grounds. They allegedly hit him repeatedly and forced him to do push-ups, including with a block of cement around his waist.
In December, Human Rights Watch reported that chaining of people with actual or perceived mental health conditions in traditional healing or faith-based facilities persisted, despite such practices being banned. The organization visited five facilities and observed more than 60 people being held in chains or cages, including children.
Incidents of forced evictions continued.
In June the Greater Accra Regional Security Council, directed by the regional minister, demolished hundreds of homes in an informal settlement in Frafraha, in the capital, Accra, located on land belonging to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The residents were given 48 hours’ notice and were not relocated, therefore being made homeless.
In April the Armed Forces (Amendment) Bill 2022 and the Criminal Offences (Amendment) Bill were introduced to parliament to replace the death penalty with life imprisonment for military and ordinary crimes. At the end of the year, the bills were still under consideration in parliament. The amendments would not abolish the death penalty for high treason, which is provided for by the Constitution.
LGBTI people’s rights
Discrimination against LGBTI people continued. The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 was pending in parliament at the end of the year. The bill further criminalized LGBTI people and introduced prison sentences for anyone expressing support or “sympathy” towards LGBTI people.
Women’s and girls’ rights
The Affirmative Action Bill remained pending at the end of the year. The bill was an effort to address gender imbalance in the private and public sectors.
Hundreds of women accused of being witches remained 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. At the end of the year, a draft bill remained pending to amend the Criminal and Other Offences Act 1960 (Act 29). The bill would prohibit declaring, accusing, naming or labelling someone as a witch or employing another person to do so.
Child labour persisted, especially in agriculture. In April, a documentary by the UK-based Channel 4 television station showed 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 children’s lawyers claimed that they suffered physical injuries and reptile bites, were exposed to toxic pesticides and fertilizers, and often missed school.