The illegal detention of protesters carrying the hashtag #OccupyJulorbiHouse by the Ghana Police Service has been condemned by Franklin Cudjoe, President and Founder of IMANI Africa.
He argued that the government stood to gain little by allowing citizens to air their complaints in public.
Cudjoe expressed his concerns in a Twitter post on September 21, 2023, stating, “What do we lose if we allow peaceful demonstration in this broke economy? We should be grateful that these demonstrators are civil with all the chaos our lives have become due to legendary misgovernance.”
During the inaugural day of the #OccupyJulorbiHouse protests organized by the Democracy Hub on September 21st, a cohort of young activists marched to demand action against the prevailing economic crisis and corruption. However, in a flagrant violation of their constitutional right to protest, the police conducted illegal arrests, apprehending 49 protesters.
The manner in which these unlawful arrests were carried out drew vehement criticism, with accusations of police highhandedness and a blatant infringement on the right to assemble and express dissent.
Subsequently, the police transported the detainees to the regional headquarters before dispersing them to approximately eight police stations scattered throughout the capital city. Concurrently, fellow protesters and legal professionals worked tirelessly to secure bail for those who had been unjustly detained.
During this tumultuous process, other journalists and protesters who had gathered, especially at the Accra Regional Command, were subjected to varying degrees of police violence, including shoving, forced detention, confiscation of phones, and, in some instances, physical assault.
In their initial statement on the matter, the police defended the illegal arrests by citing the protesters’ alleged defiance of a court injunction, a claim vehemently denied by the demonstrators, who contended that proper legal notice had not been served.
In a subsequent statement, the police addressed the reported arrest of a BBC journalist and his cameraman, dismissing the allegations as false.
As the day came to a close, GhanaWeb’s investigations revealed that nearly all of the unlawfully detained protesters had been released on bail. The question now looms over whether Day Two of the three-day protest, targeting the government’s seat, the Jubilee House, will proceed as planned on September 22, 2023.