Advertisement

The Role of the Judiciary in Safeguarding the Right to Assembly and Public Protest in Ghana

  • Michael Gyan Nyarko
Chapter

Abstract

Even though almost all countries in Africa formally recognize the right to freedom of assembly in their constitutions, governments have used repressive public order laws to frustrate the exercise of the right. In such hostile environments, courts can play an important role in protecting the right. The Ghanaian case of New Patriotic Party (NPP) v Inspector General of Police (NPP Case) provides a good illustration of how constitutional guarantee of the right to freedom of assembly can be frustrated by public order laws and how courts can step in to protect the right. The chapter highlights that, while liberal interpretations by courts can play an important role in safeguarding the right, this alone is not sufficient to protect the right peaceful assembly from illiberal policing tactics. It examines how the police in Ghana circumvented constitutional and legislative protection of the right through the use of the courts to stifle assemblies usually through ex parte injunctions from lower courts to curtail the exercise of peaceful assemblies, leading to recent legal action to prevent arbitrary police interference with the enjoyment of the right. It concludes that civil society and other relevant actors need to constantly be on the lookout for illiberal police maneuvering to ensure that judicial and legislative gains are not circumvented.

References

Books, Book Chapters and Articles

  1. Anderson, Lisa. “Demystifying the Arab Spring: Parsing the Differences Between Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.” Foreign Affairs, May/June (2011). Accessed September 4, 2018. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/libya/2011-04-03/demystifying-arab-spring?fa_anthology=1116900.
  2. Anyidoho, Nana A. “Review of Rights Discourse—Ghana” (2009).Google Scholar
  3. Article 19. “Freedom of Association and Assembly” (2001), 3. Accessed March 3, 2018. https://www.article19.org/data/files/pdfs/publications/sub-saharan-africa-freedom-of-association-and-assembly.pdf.
  4. Boateng, Francis D., and Isaac N. Darko. “Our Past: The Effect of Colonialism on Policing in Ghana.” International Journal of Police Science & Management 18 (2016): 13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Decker, Klaus, Siobhán McInerney-Lankford, and Caroline Sage. “Human Rights and Equitable Development: ‘Ideals’, Issues and Implications.” Background Paper for the World Development Report (2006). Accessed September 4, 2018. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTWDRS/Resources/477365–1327693659766/8397901-1327773323392/Human_Rights_and_Equitable_Development_Ideals_Issues_and_Implications.pdf.
  6. Delaney, Simon. “The Right to Freedom of Assembly, Demonstration, Picket and Petition Within the Parameters of South African Law.” In Socio-economic Rights—Progressive Realisation? edited by Foundation for Human Rights, 595. Johannesburg: Foundation for Human Rights, 2016.Google Scholar
  7. Hannum, Hurst. “The Status of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in National and International Law.” Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law 25 (1995): 287–396.Google Scholar
  8. Henkin, Louis. “The International Bill of Rights: The Universal Declaration and the Covenants.” In International Enforcement of Human Rights, edited by Rudolf Bernhardt and John A. Jolowizc, 1–6. Berlin: Springer, 1987.Google Scholar
  9. Humphrey, John P. “International Bill of Rights: Scope and Implementation.” William and Mary Law Review 17, no. 3 (1976): 527–541.Google Scholar
  10. Inazu, John D. “The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly.” Tulane Law Review 84 (2010): 565.Google Scholar
  11. International Centre for Non-profit Law (ICNL). “Freedom of Assembly.” Global Trends in NGO Law 2 (2011): 1.Google Scholar
  12. Kumbor, Benjamin. “Epistolary Jurisdiction of the Indian Courts and Fundamental Human Rights in Ghana’s 1992 Constitution: Some Jurisprudential Lessons.” Law, Social Justice & Global Development 9 (2001): 2.Google Scholar
  13. Quashigah, Edward K. “The Constitutional Right to Freedom of Assembly and Procession in Ghana in the Light of the Decision in the Public Order Case and the Public Order Act.” University of Ghana Law Journal 20 (1996–1999): 1.Google Scholar
  14. Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971.Google Scholar
  15. Schabas, William A. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: The Travauxx Préparatoires, volume 1, October 1946 to November 1947, xxxvii. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.Google Scholar
  16. South African Human Rights Commission. “Human Rights in Community Protests.” https://www.sahrc.org.za/home/21/files/SAHRC%20Community%20Protest%20Pamphlet%20revised%2020%20March%202018.pdf.
  17. Steiner, Henry J., Philip Alston, and Ryan Goodman. International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics, Morals—Texts and Materials. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
  18. Woolman, Stuart. “Assembly, Demonstration and Petition.” In The Bill of Rights Handbook, edited by Ian Currie and Johan De Waal, 377. Cape Town: Juta, 2013.Google Scholar
  19. Zenn, Jacob. “Freedom of Assembly: Procedures of Permission and Notification” (2013). http://www.icnl.org/research/resources/assembly/Permission-Notification%20article.pdf.

Reports and Guidelines

  1. Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). Guidelines on the Freedom of Peaceful Assembly (2010).Google Scholar
  2. Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. “Effective Measures and Best Practices to Ensure the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Context of Peaceful Protest.” UN Doc. A/HRC/22/28, January 21, 2013.Google Scholar
  3. UN Human Rights Committee. General Comment No. 31: The Nature of the General Legal Obligation Imposed on States Parties to the Covenant, CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.13 (2004).Google Scholar
  4. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).Google Scholar
  5. UN Human Rights Council. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, Maina Kiai, May 21, 2012, UN Doc. A/HRC/20/27 (hereafter Maina Kiai, 2012), para. 12.Google Scholar
  6. UN Human Rights Council. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, Maina Kiai, April 24, 2013, UN Doc. A/HRC/23/39.Google Scholar

Websites

  1. Jones, Sam, and Stephen Burgen. “Catalonia Responds to Police Violence: ‘People Are Angry, Very Angry.’” The Guardian, October 3, 2017. Accessed March 4, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/03/catalonia-tensions-rise-as-strikes-held-over-police-violence-during-referendum.
  2. “Let My Vote Count Alliance Wins Historic Case Against Police, Attorney-General.” Ghanapoliticsonline. Accessed September 5, 2018. http://ghanapoliticsonline.com/let-my-vote-count-alliance-wins-historic-case-against-police-attorney-general/.
  3. “NPP Hits Streets Over Dumsor.” Ghana Today. Accessed September 5, 2018. http://www.ghanatoday.com/news/politics/item/2813.
  4. “Occupy Ghana Condemns Abuse of Ex Parte Injunction by Police.” Myjoyonline. Accessed September 5, 2018. https://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2015/September-29th/occupyghana-condemns-abuse-of-ex-parte-injunction-by-police.php.

International cases

  1. Article 19 v Eritrea (2007) AHLR 73 (ACHPR 2007).Google Scholar
  2. Belyazeka v Belarus, Communication no. 1772/2008, Human Rights Committee (2012).Google Scholar
  3. Bukta and Others v. Hungary, Application No. 25691/04, European Court of Human Rights (2007).Google Scholar
  4. Chorherr v. Austria, Judgment, Application no. 13308/87, European Commission of Human Rights (1993).Google Scholar
  5. Christians Against Racism and Fascism v United Kingdom, Application no. 8440/78, European Commission of Human Rights (1980).Google Scholar
  6. Chumak v Ukraine, Application no. 44529/09, European Court of Human Rights (2018).Google Scholar
  7. Civil Liberties Organisation (in respect of the Bar Association) v Nigeria (2000) AHRLR 186 (ACHPR 1995).Google Scholar
  8. Denis Turchenyak and others v Belarus, Comm. No. 1948/2010, Human Rights Committee, UN Doc. CCPR/C/108/D/1948/2010, September 2013.Google Scholar
  9. Éva Molnár v Hungary, Application no. 10346/05, European Court of Human Rights (2008).Google Scholar
  10. Ezelin v. France, Application no. 11800/85, European Court of Human Rights (1991); (1992) 14 EHRR 362.Google Scholar
  11. Gillan and Quinton v. the United Kingdom, Application no. 4158/05, European Court of Human Rights (2010).Google Scholar
  12. Interights & Others v Mauritania (2004) AHRLR 87 (ACHPR 2004).Google Scholar
  13. Kivenmaa v. Finland, Communication No. 412/1990, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Doc. CCPR/C/50/D/412/1990 (1994).Google Scholar
  14. Lashmankin and Others v Russia, Applications nos. 57818/09 and 14 others, European Court of Human Rights (2017).Google Scholar
  15. Media Rights Agenda & Others v Nigeria (2000) AHRLR 200 (ACHPR 1998).Google Scholar
  16. Open Door and Dublin Well Woman v Ireland, Application no. 14234/88, European Court of Human Rights (1992).Google Scholar
  17. Osmani and Others v FYR of Macedonia, Application no. 50841/99, European Court of Human Rights (2001).Google Scholar
  18. Ouranio Toxo and Others v Greece, Application no. 74989/01, European Court of Human Rights (2005).Google Scholar
  19. Primov and Others v Russia, Application no. 17391/06, European Court of Human Rights (2014).Google Scholar
  20. Prince v South Africa, Communication 255/2002.Google Scholar
  21. Rassemblement Jurassien Unite Jurassienne v. Switzerland, Application no. 8191/78, European Commission of Human Rights (1979).Google Scholar
  22. Samut Karabulut v Turkey, Application no. 16999/04, European Court of Human Rights (2009).Google Scholar
  23. Ziliberberg v Moldova, Application no. 61821/00, European Court of Human Rights (2004).Google Scholar

Domestic cases

  1. Inspector-General of Police v All Nigeria Peoples Party and Others (2007) AHRLR 179 (NgCA 2007).Google Scholar
  2. New Patriotic Party (NPP) v Inspector-General of Police (2001) AHRLR 138 (GhSC 1993).Google Scholar
  3. Republic v Circuit Court Accra, ex parte Gifty Oware-Aboagye (Inspector General of Police & Attorney General Intervening as Interested Parties), Suit No: HRCM 4/2016, Human Rights Court, Accra.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Gyan Nyarko
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Human RightsUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations