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Police Brutality and Violence Against Liberian Refugees and Migrants in Ghana: The Role of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice

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Democratic Governance, Law, and Development in Africa

Abstract

During Liberia’s 14-year civil war, 250,000–270,000 people died while 800,000–1,000,000 persons were displaced. Perceived as the ‘spoils of war’, 80 per cent of girls and women were sexually abused—a ‘weapon of war’ used to violate human rights. Some 20,000 children were forcibly enlisted, mutilated, beaten, murdered, and enticed to commit egregious crimes against humanity. Already traumatised, roughly 126,000 fled to Ghana seeking refuge. After three decades, 12,000 Liberians remain in a protracted displacement situation at the Buduburam Refugee Settlement. Highlighting two incidences of police brutality against Liberians in Ghana, this chapter adopts an analytical legal framework and the rights-based approach to assess the Commission on Human Rights and Administration Justice’s mission to protect and enforce fundamental human rights and freedom to all persons in Ghana.

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Notes

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  14. 14.

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  15. 15.

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  16. 16.

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  18. 18.

    See, Sect. 3.5 of the Act to Govern the Devolution of Estates and Establish Rights of Inheritance for Spouses of Both Statutory and customary marriages 2003.

  19. 19.

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  20. 20.

    The Analyst, Exploitation in Liberia | International Labour Rights Forum (2006) Stop Child & Forced Labour: Stop Firestone. http://www.laborrights.org/stop-child-labor/stop-firestone/news/10929, At 16 June 2013.

  21. 21.

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  22. 22.

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  23. 23.

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  24. 24.

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  25. 25.

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  26. 26.

    Ghana acceded to the UN Refugee Convention on 18 May 1963 (see, https://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetailsII.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=V-2&chapter=5&Temp=mtdsg2&clang=_en) and signed the OAU Refugee Convention on 10 September 1969 (see, https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/about-us/background/45dc1a682/oau-convention-governing-specific-aspects-refugee-problems-africa-adopted.html).

  27. 27.

    Abby Hardgrove, ‘Liberian Refugee Families in Ghana: The Implications of Family Demands and Capabilities for Return to Liberia’ (2009) 22 Journal of Refugee Studies 483, 483–484.

  28. 28.

    Rodney Sieh, ‘Demolition at Buduburam Rocks Lib Refugees, Scores Homeless’ FrontPage Africa (Monrovia, Liberia, 4 August 2014). http://www.frontpageafricaonline.com/index.php/politic/2625-demolition-at-budumburam-rocks-liberian-refugees-scores-homeless Page 1 of 4.

  29. 29.

    Edwin Genoway, ‘Over 11,000 Liberians Stranded; LRRRC Seeks Int’l Support for Repatriation’ FrontPageAfricaonline.com (Monrovia, Liberia, 20 April 2018). https://www.frontpageafricaonline.com/index.php/news/7599-over-11-000-liberians-stranded-lrrrc-seeks-int-l-support-for-repatriation, Accessed 24 April 2018.

  30. 30.

    ibid.

  31. 31.

    Shelly Dick, ‘Liberian in Ghana: Living without Humanitarian Assistance’ (2002) 57 International Development Centre Working Paper 1, 8–9; Joseph Kofi Teye and Moses Kai-doz Yebleh, ‘Living Without Economic Assets: Livelihoods of Liberian Refugees in the Buduburam Camp, Ghana’ (2015) 16 Journal of International Migration and Integration 557, 557. http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s12134-014-0352-6, Accessed 4 September 2021.

  32. 32.

    Naohiko Omata, ‘Forgotten People: Former Liberian Refugees in Ghana’ [2016] Forced Migration Review 10.

  33. 33.

    Staff Reporter, ‘Ghana—Liberia: Refugee Protest Repatriation’ IRIN News (Accra, Ghana, 13 March 2008). https://reliefweb.int/report/ghana/ghana-liberia-refugees-protest-repatriation; Bowers and Ackerman, ‘In Ghana, Liberian Protesters Fear Deportation’ Women’s eNews (Accra, Ghana, 1 April 2008). https://womensenews.org/2008/04/ghana-liberian-protesters-fear-deportation/; Rob Cook, ‘Liberian Refugees Protest in Ghana’ (Pambazuka News, 4 March 2016). https://www.pambazuka.org/human-security/liberian-refugees-protest-ghana, Accessed 15 August 2021; Samuel KM Agblorti and Miriam R Grant, ‘Conceptualising Obstacles to Local Integration of Refugees in Ghana’ (2019) 38 Refugee Survey Quarterly 195. https://academic.oup.com/rsq/article/38/2/195/5481166, Accessed 28 February 2021.

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    Megan Sullivan and Penelope Chester, ‘N.G.O.’s and Concerned Individuals Form Grassroots Campaign to Safeguard Human Rights of Refugees in Ghana’ (Op-Ed, 2 April 2008). https://worldpress.org/Africa/3108.cfm, Accessed 15 August 2021.

  35. 35.

    Peter Schwab, Designing West Africa: Prelude to 21st Century Calamity. (Palgrave Macmillan 2006) 40. http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=307744, Accessed 3 September 2021; West African Summit Conference, ‘The First West African Summit Conference: Held at Sanniquellie, Central Province, Liberian Hinterland’, The First West African Summit Conference: Held at Sanniquellie, Central Province, Liberian Hinterland, July 15–19, 1959 (Liberia Information Service` 1959).

  36. 36.

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  38. 38.

    BBC News, ‘Ghana Profile - Timeline’ BBC News (London, UK, 1 May 2018). https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13434226, Accessed 3 September 2021.

  39. 39.

    BBC News, ‘Liberia Profile—Timeline’ BBC News (London, UK, 22 January 2018). https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13732188, Accessed 4 September 2021.

  40. 40.

    Robert M Press, Ripples of Hope: How Ordinary People Resist Repression Without Violence (Amsterdam University Press 2015) 160–161.

  41. 41.

    Okolo (n 22) 149.

  42. 42.

    Rein Dekker, ‘Forced Homecoming: Ghanaians’ Resettlement in Their Rural Hometown. A Case Study’ (1995) 33 International Migration 115. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2435.1995.tb00021.x, Accessed 3 September 2021.

  43. 43.

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  44. 44.

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  45. 45.

    ‘CNN—Liberian Refugees Allowed to Enter Ghana—May 14, 1996’. http://edition.cnn.com/WORLD/9605/14/liberia.freighter/index.html, Accessed 4 September 2021; Reuters, ‘Ghana Refuses to Take in a Boatload of Liberian Refugees’ The New York Times (New York, NY, 14 May 1996). https://www.nytimes.com/1996/05/14/world/ghana-refuses-to-take-in-a-boatload-of-liberian-refugees.html, Accessed 4 September 2021.

  46. 46.

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  47. 47.

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  48. 48.

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  49. 49.

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  50. 50.

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  51. 51.

    Ghana signed and ratified the ICESCR on 7 September 2000 (see, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/TreatyBodyExternal/Treaty.aspx?CountryID=67&Lang=EN).

  52. 52.

    Ghana signed and ratified the ICCPR on 7 September 2000 (see, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/TreatyBodyExternal/Treaty.aspx?CountryID=67&Lang=EN).

  53. 53.

    Ghana signed and ratified CEDAW on 17 July 1980 and 02 January 1986, respectively (see, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/TreatyBodyExternal/Treaty.aspx?CountryID=67&Lang=EN).

  54. 54.

    Ghana signed and ratified Banjul Charter on 3 July 2004 and 24 January 1989, respectfully (see, https://au.int/sites/default/files/treaties/36390-sl-african_charter_on_human_and_peoples_rights_2.pdf).

  55. 55.

    Ghana signed and ratified the CRC on 29 January 1990 and 5 February 1990, respectively (see, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/TreatyBodyExternal/Treaty.aspx?CountryID=67&Lang=EN).

  56. 56.

    Ghana signed and ratified the African Children’s Charter on 18 August 1997 and 10 June 2005, respectfully (see, https://au.int/sites/default/files/treaties/36804-sl-AFRICAN%20CHARTER%20ON%20THE%20RIGHTS%20AND%20WELFARE%20OF%20THE%20CHILD.pdf).

  57. 57.

    Ghana signed and ratified the CAT on 7 September 2000 (see, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/TreatyBodyExternal/Treaty.aspx?CountryID=67&Lang=EN).

  58. 58.

    Ghana signed and ratified the Maputo Protocol on 31 October 2003 and 13 June 2007, respectively (see, https://au.int/sites/default/files/treaties/37077-sl-PROTOCOL%20TO%20THE%20AFRICAN%20CHARTER%20ON%20HUMAN%20AND%20PEOPLE%27S%20RIGHTS%20ON%20THE%20RIGHTS%20OF%20WOMEN%20IN%20AFRICA.pdf).

  59. 59.

    Makau Mutua, ‘The Banjul Charter and the African Cultural Fingerprint: An Evaluation of the Language of Duties’ (1995) 35 Virginia Journal of International Law 339, 339–340.

  60. 60.

    On continental Africa, the United Kingdom Parliament unilaterally declared Egypt’s independence on 28 February 1922 (see, https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/lords/1922/feb/28/statement-on-egypt), followed by King Idris I declaration of Libya’s independence from Italy on 24 December 1951 (see, https://www.britannica.com/place/Libya/History), then Sudan from British and Egyptian rule on 1 January 1956 (see, https://uca.edu/politicalscience/dadm-project/middle-eastnorth-africapersian-gulf-region/anglo-egyptian-sudan-1922-1956/). Ethiopia and Liberia are the only two countries that did not gain independence from colonial rule (see, https://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/africa/features/storyofafrica/14chapter1.shtml).

  61. 61.

    The other two founders of the OAU were former President of Liberia William V S Tubman and the former Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie. Sanniquillie, Nimba County, Liberia is the birthplace of the OAU where the West African Summit was held between 15–19 July 1959 (see, https://searchworks.stanford.edu/view/10503787).

  62. 62.

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  63. 63.

    Amanda Bisong, ‘Trans-Regional Institutional Cooperation as Multilevel Governance: ECOWAS Migration Policy and the EU’ (2019) 45 Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 1294, 1298. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1369183X.2018.1441607, Accessed 1 September 2021.

  64. 64.

    Government of Ghana, ‘National Migration Policy for Ghana’ (Ministry of the Interior 2016) 8–10. http://www.migratingoutofpoverty.org/files/file.php?name=national-migration-policy-for-ghana.pdf&site=354.

  65. 65.

    Information obtained from the UNHCR-Ghana Facebook page on 25 August 2021 (see, https://www.facebook.com/unhcrgh/posts/an-exercise-to-renew-passports-for-some-persons-of-concern-from-liberia-who-have/3197322943629649/.

  66. 66.

    Heaven Crawley and others, ‘“Hanging in the Air”: The Experiences of Liberian Refugees in Ghana’ (Disrupting Theory, Unsettling Practice: Towards Transformative Forced Migration Scholarship and Policy, Virtual—Pheeloop hosted by the University of Ghana, 28 July 2021). http://iasfm.org/iasfm18/.

  67. 67.

    International Organisation for Migration (n 37) 2.

  68. 68.

    Ibid.

  69. 69.

    Robert F Gorman, ‘Beyond ICARA II: Implementing Refugee-Related Development Assistance’ (1986) 20 International Migration Review 283, 284. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/019791838602000209, Accessed 31 August 2021; United Nations General Assembly, ‘International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa’, International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa, 10 June 1982 (United Nations 1992) para 6. https://www.refworld.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/rwmain?page=printdoc&docid=3b00f01e18.

  70. 70.

    Government of Ghana (n 64) 8.

  71. 71.

    Jakob Kirkemann Boesen and Tomas Martin, Applying a Rights-Based Approach: An Inspirational Guide for Civil Society (Danish Institute for Human Rights 2007) 9.

  72. 72.

    Suman Momin, ‘A Human Rights Based Approach to Refugees: A Look at the Syrian Refugee Crisis and the Responses from Germany and the United States’ (2017) 9 Duke Forum for Law & Social Change 55, 57. https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/dflsc/vol9/iss1/3.

  73. 73.

    Stephanie E Berry, ‘Integrating Refugees: The Case for a Minority Rights Based Approach’ (2012) 24 International Journal of Refugee Law 1, 1. https://academic.oup.com/ijrl/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/ijrl/eer038, Accessed 26 August 2021; Raymond A Atuguba, Francis Xavier Dery Tuokuu and Vitus Gbang, ‘Statelessness in West Africa: An Assessment of Stateless Populations and Legal, Policy, and Administrative Frameworks in Ghana’ (2020) 8 Journal on Migration and Human Security 14, 16. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2331502419900771, Accessed 26 August 2021.

  74. 74.

    United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ‘Ghana: Deportation to Liberia’ UNHCR (Accra, Ghana, 25 March 2008). https://www.unhcr.org/news/briefing/2008/3/47e8f5722/ghana-deportation-liberia.html, Accessed 4 September 2021; Jenkins Divo Macedo, ‘Liberian Refugees in Ghana: Environmental Security Implications of the Indiscriminate Disposal of Municipal Solid Waste’ (Master of Arts Thesis, Clark University 2012) 150.

  75. 75.

    Refugees (n 74).

  76. 76.

    Ibid.

  77. 77.

    Bowers and Ackerman (n 33); Staff Reporter, ‘Ghana—Liberia: Refugee Protest Repatriation’ (n 33).

  78. 78.

    Joy Online, ‘CHRAJ Urges Refugees to Abide by Laws of Host Countries—MyJoyOnline.Com’ (News, 20 June 2008). https://www.myjoyonline.com/chraj-urges-refugees-to-abide-by-laws-of-host-countries/, Accessed 4 September 2021.

  79. 79.

    Government of Ghana, ‘Universal Periodic Review: National Report of Ghana’ (Human Rights Council 2008) UN Document. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/Highlights5May2008pm.aspx.

  80. 80.

    Staff Reporter, ‘Buduburam Settlement Camp Not Closed—Ghana Refugee Board’ GhanaWeb (Accra, Ghana, 25 September 2019). https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Buduburam-settlement-camp-not-closed-Ghana-Refugee-Board-783466, Accessed 4 September 2021.

  81. 81.

    Staff Reporter, ‘Military, Police Raid Budumburam Camp’ Modern Ghana (Accra, Ghana, 12 September 2019). https://www.modernghana.com/news/954843/military-police-raid-budumburam-camp.html, Accessed 4 September 2021; Staff Reporter, ‘376 Suspected Criminals Arrested in Joint Police/Military Crackdown in Ghana’ Daily Mail Ghana (Accra, Ghana, 12 September 2019). https://www.dailymailgh.com/376-suspected-criminals-arrested-in-joint-police-military-crackdown-in-ghana/.

  82. 82.

    BBC News, ‘Ghana military/police team arrest 354 “criminals”’ BBC News Pidgin (London, UK, 12 September 2019). https://www.bbc.com/pidgin/tori-49681863, Accessed 15 August 2021.

  83. 83.

    Staff Reporter, ‘Finally an Action at Buduburam’ Modern Ghana (Accra, Ghana, 15 September 2019). https://www.modernghana.com/news/955152/finally-an-action-at-buduburam.html; Staff Reporter, ‘Police Rounds-up over 100 Suspects at Buduburam’ Ghana Business News (Accra, Ghana, 13 September 2019). https://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/2019/09/13/police-rounds-up-over-100-suspects-at-buduburam/.

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Bruey, V.F. (2022). Police Brutality and Violence Against Liberian Refugees and Migrants in Ghana: The Role of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice. In: Addadzi-Koom, M.E., Addaney, M., Nkansah, L.A. (eds) Democratic Governance, Law, and Development in Africa. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-15397-6_14

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-15397-6_14

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-031-15396-9

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-031-15397-6

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