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09.03.2006 General News

Ghana's Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2005

By US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
March 8, 2006Ghana is a constitutional democracy with a strong presidency and a unicameral 230-seat parliament. The country's population is approximately 21 million. In December 2004 eight political parties contested parliamentary elections, and four parties, including the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), contested presidential elections. NPP candidate John Agyekum Kufuor was reelected president with 52.45 percent of the vote. Despite a few incidents of intimidation and minor irregularities, domestic and international observers judged the elections generally free and fair. While civilian authorities generally maintained effective control over security forces, there were some instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently of government authorities. The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens and made significant improvements during the year; however, there were problems in several areas, including a sharp increase in incidents of vigilante justice. The following human rights problems were reported: • police use of excessive force, which resulted in deaths • vigilante justice • harsh and life-threatening prison conditions • police corruption and impunity • arbitrary arrest and detention • prolonged pretrial detention • infringement on citizens' privacy rights • arrest, detention, interrogation, and harassment of journalists • forcible dispersal of demonstrations • corruption in all branches of government • violence against women and children • female genital mutilation (FGM) • societal discrimination against women, persons with disabilities, homosexuals, and persons with HIV/AIDS • trafficking in women and children • ethnic discrimination and politically and ethnically motivated violence • child labor, including forced child labor During the year the government took significant steps to improve human rights, including passage of an antihuman trafficking law. RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS