Treatment of government opponents by police and other security agents and recourses available to those who claim mistreatment (1996 - March 1999); information on a police inspector in Accra [GHA31539.E]

For information on the use of force by Ghanaian police please refer to Amnesty International Report 1997 and Country Reports 1998, available in Regional Documentation Centres.

A Ghanaian social sciences professor at the University of Toronto stated in a 17 March 1999 telephone interview that the conduct of Ghanaian police officers is much improved over the period of the early 1980s. He stated that the political opposition is active and participating in the affairs of government. However, he also said that if a person had a complaint about police behaviour it could be difficult for that person to find redress in channels independent of the police. The professor said that an individual could take complaints to local committees, but since these are generally linked to the government, "it is hard to say what would happen." A person could also take their complaint to the police themselves but he was not confident of the police force's ability to impartially investigate complaints against its members. A commission for human rights exists, to which complaints can be taken, but he said an individual must first be aware of its existence. He also acknowledged that complaints could be taken to individual members of parliament but added that is also difficult since access to them is not as easy as in Canada. Nevertheless, he stated that the government is very concerned with providing a police force with a positive image and has made efforts to set up appropriate structures.

At the time of the December 1996 elections there were a number of reports of violence involving supporters of President Jerry Rawlings' National Democratic Congress (NDC) and those of opposition parties (Xinhua 28 Oct. 1996; Ghana Broadcasting Corporation Radio Network 13 Dec. 1996a). All political activities were banned in Kumasi, Ghana's second largest city, following election-related violence that involved the death of an NDC supporter (ibid. 2 Dec. 1996; DPA 2 Dec. 1996), while a "dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed" in Bimbilla following violence involving political rivals there (AFP 13 Dec. 1996).

However, the election itself was judged by international observers to be largely free and fair despite the "sporadic" incidents of violence (International Herald Tribune 13 Dec. 1996; Reuters 11 Dec. 1996;HURINet 10 Dec. 1996) with a turnout of approximately 75 percent of eligible voters (Christian Science Monitor 10 Jan. 1997). Furthermore, John Kufor, leader of the opposition alliance, was reported to have said that opposition complaints about the election procedure were not sufficient to contest the outcome (Reuters 11 Dec. 1996). Opposition leaders were reported to have congratulated Rawlings on his election victory (DPA 5 Jan. 1997), while the opposition's electoral alliance was reported to have collapsed with the two member parties blaming each other for the electoral loss (DPA 30 Dec. 1996). In noting Kufor's congratulations to Rawlings, the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation Radio Network reported that Kufor had "acknowledged that this year's election had shown that Ghana is moving in the right direction toward full democracy" (13 Dec. 1996b).

In February 1998, West Africa reported that the opposition "had achieved a level of confidence that was allowing them to continue harrying the National Democratic Congress government and its ministers - all in the name of democracy" (9-15 Feb. 1998, 195). An opposition member of parliament stated:

Everyone in Ghana now knows that there is an opposition which is articulate. Ministers coming to the House have to answer tricky questions from us. ... We are beginning to flex our muscles. All this is a credit to our democracy, and our contribution has been significant and positive. Ghanaians can now see that there is an alternative viewpoint to that of the NDC (ibid.).

The following documentary information may also be of interest. In early 1998, Jane's Intelligence Review reported on a number of violent clashes in 1997 that included a series of altercations between government forces and opposition members in northern Ghana; attacks on officials by people protesting the lack of garbage removal in Nima, and on police who were investigating illegal diamond dealers in Akwatia (1 Feb. 1998). On 31 December 1998 Panafrican News Agency reported President Rawlings as stating that "security agencies would deal 'ruthlessly' with anyone who attacked security officers in the country" and that laws would be amended if necessary. At the same time, Country Reports 1998 states that:

In November following news of an eighth individual shot and killed by police officers during the year, the police established a special judicial tribunal to try officers suspected of unlawful and careless use of weapons. In each of the shooting cases, the officers involved in the shootings were suspended from duty and an investigation was undertaken. The findings of such investigations are referred to the Attorney General's office for action. The IGP also announced a retraining course for 50 officers to improve police skills and heighten awareness of their responsibilities. In a statement at the opening of the course, the IGP stated that the rampant and careless use of firearms by some police personnel was causing a lot of "embarrassment" to the police administration (1999).

No mention of a specific police inspector in Accra could be found in the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 13 December 1996. "Curfew in Ghana Town After Post-Election Punch-Up." (NEXIS)

The Christian Science Monitor [Boston]. 10 January 1997. Antony Goldman. "Ghana's Former Dictator Blazes Unlikely Trail to Democracy." (NEXIS)

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). 5 January 1997. Mawusi Afele. "Ghana's New Government Shows Democracy is Taking Root." (NEXIS)

_____. 30 December 1996. "Ghana Opposition Alliance Collapses." (NEXIS)

_____. 2 December 1996. "Political Activities Banned in Ghana's Second Largest City." (NEXIS)

Ghana Broadcasting Corporation Radio Network [Accra, in English]. 13 December 1996a. "Political Clashes Reported in Bimbila; Curfew Imposed." (FBIS-AFR-96-242 13 Dec. 1996/WNC)

_____. 13 December 1996b. "Ghana: Kufuor Urges President Rawlings to Accept Opposition." (FBIS-AFR-96-242 13 Dec. 1996/WNC)

_____. 2 December 1996. "Ghana: Political Activities Banned in Kumasi Following Violence." (FBIS-AFR-96-233 2 Dec. 1996/WNC)

Human Rights Information Network (HURINet). 10 December 1996. William Eagle. "Ghana Polls/Lessons."

International Herald Tribune. 13 December 1996. James Rupert. "Rawlings Re-election in Ghana Judged Fair." (NEXIS)

Jane's Intelligence Review. 1 February 1998. Lawrence Whelan. "Rawlings Continues to Face Challenges." (NEXIS)

Panafrican News Agency (PANA). 31 December 1998. "Ghana; Rawlings to Curb Violence Against Security Organs." (Africa News/NEXIS)

Reuters. 11 December 1996. Vincent t'Sas. "Historic Election Win for Ghana's Rawlings." (NEXIS)

University of Toronto. 17 March 1999. Telephone interview with social sciences professor.

West Africa [London]. 9-15 February 1998. No. 4184. Desmond Davies. "Ghana: The Opposition Has Arrived."

Xinhua. 28 October 1996. "20 Die in Ghana's Political Clash." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

Electronic sources: IRB Databases, LEXIS/NEXIS, Internet, REFWORLD, World News Connection (WNC).