OccupyGhana, a civil society group, has condemned the arrests of protesters during Thursday’s ‘Occupy Jubilee House’ demonstration.
The group said their arrests were an affront on the fundamental human rights of the protesters to freely express themselves and assemble.
‘In a democratic society, we firmly uphold the belief that the right to peaceful protest is a fundamental pillar of freedoms of expression and assembly,’ OccupyGhana said a statement on Friday.
‘These rights, enshrined in the Constitution, should be unwaveringly upheld and respected by all state institutions.’
The group said the police should have pursued an alternative or less confrontational approach to manage the situation.
It said the arrests had raised questions about the appropriateness of the response by law enforcement agencies.
‘It is important to note that these arrests took place during a time when potential traffic disruptions would have been minimal.’
‘Furthermore, we are reliably informed that there was no court injunction served to the demonstrators, indicating that their right to protest remained fully protected under the law,’ the group said.
OccupyGhana, therefore, demanded a thorough investigation into the circumstances behind the protestors’ arrests to ensure that justice was served, and peaceful demonstrators’ rights were vigorously protected.
The group also urged the police to adhere to the rule of law and to respect the constitutional rights of all citizens.
‘In the interest of nurturing a democratic society where dissenting voices are not merely tolerated but celebrated and respected, we call upon all stakeholders, including the Ghana Police Service and the government, to engage constructively with citizens exercising their constitutional rights,’ it said.
‘We are informed that those who were arrested have now been released, which is a positive development,’ the statement added.
The Police on Thursday arrested about 50 demonstrators who joined hundreds seeking to picket at the Jubilee House, the seat of government.
The arrests took place at the 37 Military Trotro Station where the demonstrators had converged to embark on their planned protest.
The protestors are demanding reforms to lower the cost of living, reduce corruption and improve governance.
The Police have since explained that the Jubilee House is a security installation and were thus seeking a compromise with the organisers over a change of location for the picketing.
Source: Ghana News Agency