Cases of excessive use of force were reported. Prisons remained overcrowded. Women continued to suffer discrimination and gender-based violence. Attacks against LGBTI people intensified. Efforts were made to begin vaccinating at-risk people and essential workers against Covid-19. Forced evictions left some people homeless.
In January, President Akufo-Addo was sworn in for a second term. In May, variations of the hashtag #FixTheCountry started being used on social media by young Ghanaians calling for social and economic reforms.
Excessive and unnecessary use of force
There were several incidents of excessive and unnecessary use of force by the security forces.
Various media reported that National Security operatives assaulted journalist Peter Tabiri on 7 May as he reported on a casino raid. The operatives allegedly kicked, slapped and poured water on him, injuring his right ear.
On 11 May, National Security operatives arrested and allegedly assaulted reporter Caleb Kudah from Citi FM after they found him filming abandoned state-funded vehicles within their premises. They then stormed Citi FM’s office and arrested Caleb Kudah’s colleague, Zoe Abu-Baidoo. Both were released without charge.
On 29 June, police and military forces shot dead two protesters and wounded four others during a protest in Ejura Sekyedumase in the Ashanti Region. A three-member Ministerial Committee commissioned to conduct a public inquiry into the incident submitted its report to the government in July.
On 1 July in Wa, in the Upper West Region, military officers went on a rampage, beating people over a suspected stolen phone. The Military High Command tasked a four-member committee to investigate the incident. Three officers from the Wa Barracks were demoted while eight others were tried and jailed for 30 days by a disciplinary board.
Arbitrary arrests and detentions
On 14 January, a police officer arrested Selorm Gborbidzi, a reporter from the Accra-based newspaper The Finder, after he started filming a scuffle between the officer and the driver of a commercial vehicle. He was released after four hours and charged with obstruction of justice, illegally filming a police officer on duty and insulting a police officer.
Inhumane detention conditions
Prison overcrowding continued. According to the Director General of the Prisons Services, as of 24 June the total prison population was 13,200, despite an authorized capacity of 9,945. Food given to prison inmates was inadequate due to the insufficient feeding grant of GHC1.80 (US$0.30) a day per inmate.
Women’s and girls’ rights
At the end of the year, the Affirmative Action bill was still pending.
In March, UNFPA Ghana in partnership with the government launched the Orange Support Centre and the Boame mobile phone app to report cases of domestic violence.
“Witch” camps remained open, despite the government’s promise to close them. Older women accused of witchcraft were at risk of being banished to such camps. A commemorative forum was held on 23 July, a year after a mob lynched an elderly woman, to call on parliament to criminalize the labelling of people as witches. In December, various media reported that youths beat to death an elderly woman in Nalerigu in the North East Region because they suspected her of being a witch.
LGBTI people’s rights
Discrimination against LGBTI people intensified. In February, police officers searched and closed the recently inaugurated office of LGBT+ Rights Ghana, a non-profit organization. On 20 May, police arrested 21 LGBTI activists for unlawful assembly during a training session. They were released on bail in June and their charges were dismissed on 5 August.
In June, the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values bill was introduced in parliament. The bill further criminalized LGBTI people and introduced prison sentences for anyone expressing support or “sympathy” towards LGBTI people. The bill also encouraged conversion therapy and gender “realignment” for children.
Right to health
On 1 February, the Ghana Medical Association declared an increase in doctors contracting Covid-19, and the deaths of two doctors from the disease during January.
In March, Covid-19 vaccinations began for people at risk and essential workers, with drones being used to deliver vaccines to rural communities. On 7 May, the vice president, Mahamudu Bawumia, stated that 2,161 prison officers and 1,136 inmates with underlying health conditions had been vaccinated. By mid-December, less than 10% of the population were fully vaccinated.
The Greater Accra Regional Minister’s “Let’s Make Accra Work” campaign involved demolishing illegal structures. As part of the campaign, on 5 July, authorities demolished homes of people living in the Railway Quarters along Graphic Road in Accra, making them homeless. Former residents told the media they were not given adequate notice. In the same month, about 3,000 woodworkers at Kaase-Angola in the Asokwa Municipality, who had been operating in the area for decades, were requested to vacate the area after the government allegedly sold the land to a private company. The woodworkers stated that it would deprive them of an adequate place to work, affecting their livelihood.
In February, three global manufacturing companies expressed concern over the impact of bauxite mining on the people and wildlife of the Atewa forest, and stated that they would not use this supply chain.
In May, the defence minister announced that 561 military officers had been deployed during a four-day operation on the Birim, Offin and Oda rivers of the Eastern and Ashanti Regions as part of Operation Halt to counter illegal mining which was polluting water bodies. On 27 May, the government announced another deployment of 401 military officers to halt operations on the river Ankobra.