The Ghana Centre for Democratic Development has condemned what it says is the needless harassment of the 21 young Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) activists who were arrested in the Volta Regional Capital Ho, on May 21, 2021.
The accused persons, comprising 16 women and 5 men, were arrested after Police invaded a hotel where a conference on human rights was ongoing.
The Centre, in a statement, stated that it finds it unlawful for the police to hold these individuals in custody for over 19 days.
“The Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) is appalled at how the Courts and the State have handled this matter and have allowed these young Ghanaians to be incarcerated for 19 days and counting”.
It added that arrest was of the 21 individuals was a violation of their constitutional right to free assembly
“First, it is clear that gathering to educate people at a hotel venue on LGBT+ issues is not a criminal act or crime under the Constitution or any statute. At the time of their arrest, the arrestees were not engaged in or found to have engaged in any unlawful act or in possession of any unlawful or prohibited items. Their arrest and subsequent mistreatment are, therefore, a clear violation of their constitutional right to freedom of assembly and association”.
The Centre also criticised the denial of bail of the arrested persons on 3 separate occasions by the courts.
“The circuit court’s refusal to grant bail on three (3) different occasions unfairly prejudices the accused persons even before their trial. The occasional use of archaic colonial legal relics like Section 202 of Act 29 by the police to undermine constitutional rights, particularly the right to assemble, exposes the stagnation we continue to experience in efforts to promote and protect human rights in Ghana”.
CDD-Ghana has called on the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to intervene in the matter
“The Center calls on the Attorney-General who is clothed with the State’s exclusive prosecutorial power under the Constitution to intervene in this matter and stop the needless continuing harassment and violation of the constitutional rights of these 21 compatriots”.
The statement concludes by calling on CHRAJ to also take up the matter.
“The Center also calls on the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to take proactive steps, including public education, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of social approval or disapproval of their personal choices and preferences in purely private matters, are able to exercise and enjoy the rights guaranteed equally to all persons under the Constitution without social or official harassment”.
Click CDD-HO 21 for the full statement.