Human Rights and Nationalism in Ghana

Posted: February 22, 2013 in All Posts, Ghana

by Jamin Shih

In an increasingly connected world, standards of human rights have begun to spread under the notion that human rights are not simply delegated to different countries, but instead should be universal. Some issues that the 2010 Human Rights Report brought up about Ghana’s state of human rights are just as varied, multi-faceted and complicated as those present in other countries. Among some of the common versions of systematic discrimination such as sexism, heterosexism, and ethnic discrimination, Ghana also faces some problems with excessive force by security personnel.

Happily, the report claimed that there were no known cases of the government assassinating citizens OR citizens disappearing for political reasons. However, there were problems with ethnically-motivated violence. In addition to this class of violence, Ghana also has some problems with vigilante violence. What this means is that certain citizens take the law into their own hands and illegally hurt or kill perceived criminals. Among some of the anecdotes that were mentioned in the report were lynchings about suspected thieves. Indeed, the vast majority of the vigilante acts mentioned in the report were responses to thievery. There was, however, several acts of violence were in response to the idea of witchcraft or caused by ritual sacrifice. In each case, the police became involved and arrested perpetrators.

In line with some of the previously stated human rights problems are the conditions of prisons. The report states that the way that prison guards treat prisoners is sometimes inhumane, with beating and poor conditions like no beds involved. In fact, 84 prisoners died while in prison custody in the year of 2009, mostly due to diseases although the poor conditions and overcrowding were sometimes a problem.

Ghana does, however, offer production from unwarranted search-and-entry, quite similar to the way that the United States does. However, there have been cases where these rights get lost in the process and citizens get put on trial or arrested without a legal warrant. This is blatantly illegal in Ghana, but the fact that these events can occur is a significant human rights issue, even if the appropriate laws are in place. Similarly to how laws are in place but not always respected is how Ghana deals with freedom of speech and the press. Ghana has a system of laws granting freedom of speech, expression, and the press, but there have been occasions where these rights have been suspended as well.

In terms of social human rights issues, the government prohibits discrimination on many of the large human rights groups that are enforced throughout the world such as protection based on sex, race, and disability. However, there is not an official law prohibiting discrimination of LGBT individuals. Focusing on the issues of women, rape is considered a crime but marital rape, as defined as non-consensual sex between two individuals who are married, is not. Going hand-in-hand with this are pertinent problems with domestic violence. Similar to many of Ghana’s human rights problems, domestic violence is illegal but difficult to enforce, and as such these events unfortunately still occur.

Nationalism in Ghana has been growing for several years now according to a website dedicated to Ghana in the modern age. Nationalism and national pride has arisen out of Ghana’s democracy and its fairly recent development. Especially due to its history as a colony of Great Britain and previously Portugal, Ghana is extremely proud of the leaps and bounds it has made in terms of government and human rights. There are still issues, to be fair, but growing pride about the individuals who made Ghana the place it is today have crafted the nation into being the progressive and democratic African nation that it is today.

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