The U.S. Department of State has released its 2021 annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices which reports on key human rights issues in various countries across the world including Ghana.
Released on April 12, 2022, the report cited Ghana for a number of human rights abuses including clamping down on free speech, politically motivated killing, inhumane treatments, arbitrary arrests, and denial of fair trial among others.
“Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: arbitrary or unlawful killings by the government or its agents; cases of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by the government or on behalf of the government; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including violence and threats of violence against journalists, and unjustified arrests or prosecutions of journalists; substantial interference with freedom of assembly; serious government corruption; lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence, including but not limited to domestic or intimate partner violence; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting persons with disabilities; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or intersex persons; existence of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults; and existence of the worst forms of child labor,” the report stated among issues it found in Ghana.
It said, although the government took steps to tackle the issue of corruption and abuses orchestrated by its officials, impunity was still a challenge.
Some specific cases mentioned in the report included the killing of social activist, Kaaka in Ejura, and the arrest and abuse of Citi FM/Citi TV’s Caleb Kudah.
“On May 11, Ministry of National Security officers detained and allegedly brutalized Caleb Kudah, a journalist with Omni Media Limited (OML), operator of Accra-based Citi FM radio and Citi TV. Authorities accused Kudah of filming a fleet of vehicles that had allegedly fallen into despair as a result of neglect at the Ministry of National Security facility, a restricted site. The security officers who detained Kudah reportedly beat and abused him during interrogation. On the same day, a SWAT team reportedly entered the OML offices in an attempt to arrest Zoe Abu-Baido, Kudah’s colleague. The Ministry of National Security accused Baidoo of possessing video files sent to her by Kudah immediately before his detention. Following public outrage the Ministry of National Security announced an internal probe into the incident which led to the suspension of the officers involved. Less than a week after his suspension, Ministry of National Security leadership re-assigned Lieutenant Colonel Acheampong, identified as the commander of the operation that apprehended and reportedly abused Kudah, to serve as commanding officer of a different unit of the Ghanaian Armed Forces,” the report stated.
The report highlighted works by the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) in addressing issues such as rape and domestic violence but said, “pervasive cultural beliefs in gender roles, as well as socio-cultural norms and stereotypes, posed additional challenges to combatting domestic violence.”