Head of state and government John Evans Atta Mills (replaced John Agyekum Kufuor in January)
Death penalty abolitionist in practice
Population 23.8 million
Life expectancy 56.5 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f)119/115 per 1,000
Adult literacy 65 per cent
Prison conditions remained poor. Seven people were sentenced to death, but 14 death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment and there were no executions. Hundreds of people were forcibly evicted from their homes. Violence against women remained pervasive.
John Evans Atta Mills was inaugurated President on 7 January.
A curfew remained in force in the northern region of Bawku, where inter-communal violence continued. Twenty-one people were reported to have been killed.
The Freedom of Information Bill, introduced in 2002, was still not passed into law.
Prisons were overcrowded and under-resourced, with poor medical and sanitary facilities and insufficient bedding. Many inmates were forced to sleep in turns and on bare floors. Prisons with a capacity for about 8,000 prisoners were holding approximately 13,000, almost 30 per cent of whom were awaiting trial. In September, according to media reports, 1,021 prisoners were pardoned by the President to mark an anniversary of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President.
Seven people were sentenced to death, according to the prison authorities, bringing to 99 the number of prisoners on death row. Among those under sentence of death were two women. Fourteen death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment and there were no executions.
Right to adequate housing – forced evictions
Threats of and actual forced evictions, particularly of marginalized people, continued. In October, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly demolished structures along the railway near Graphic Road and structures within the slum known as Abuja, affecting hundreds of people. These forced evictions deprived families of their homes and, usually, their livelihoods. Residents who had been living and working in the structures said they were not consulted about the evictions, nor offered any compensation or adequate alternative housing.
Thousands of people living in Agbogbloshie and Old Fadama settlements in Accra repeatedly came under threat of forced eviction. The Accra Metropolitan Assembly announced that the settlements would be demolished and residents would not be relocated or compensated. In November, the government indicated that people facing eviction in Old Fadama would be relocated, but no further details were given. Some residents have lived in the communities for 30 years.
Violence against women and girls
Violence against women and girls continued to be widespread, with violence in the family thought to affect one in three women. According to the police’s Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit, reported cases of violence against women and girls increased in 2009.
The police often failed to bring suspects before a court within a reasonable time. The Justice for All Programme, initiated in 2007 by the Ministry of Justice and the judiciary to speed up the trials of people remanded in prison, had no significant impact.
Amnesty International report
Ghana: A seven-point human rights agenda for the new government (1 January 2009)