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Title:  Ghana Human Rights Practices, 1995  
Author:  U.S. Department of State   
Date:  March 1996   
 
 
 
 
                                  GHANA 
 
 
Ghana continues its transition from a single-party, authoritarian system 
to a constitutional democracy.  Flight Lieutenant (ret.) Jerry John 
Rawlings has ruled Ghana for 15 years.  He became the first President of 
the Fourth Republic following controversial elections in 1992.  This 
ended 11 years of authoritarian rule under Rawlings and his Provisional 
National Defense Council (PNDC), which had seized power from an elected 
government in 1981.  While acknowledging irregularities, international 
monitors accepted the validity of the 1992 presidential election 
results.  Four opposition parties, however, claimed massive fraud in the 
election and subsequently boycotted the December 1992 parliamentary 
elections, leaving the President's coalition in full control of 
Parliament and the Government.  The Constitution calls for a system of 
checks and balances, with an executive branch headed by the President, a 
unicameral Parliament, an independent judiciary, and several autonomous 
commissions, such as the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative 
Justice (CHRAJ). 
 
Several security organizations report to various government departments.  
The police, under the jurisdiction of an eight-member Police Council, 
are responsible for maintaining law and order.  The Bureau of National 
Investigations (BNI) handles cases considered critical to state 
security.  It is an independent department that answers directly to the 
executive branch.  Credible allegations continue of police involvement 
in human rights abuses, especially in areas remote from the capital.  
Although the security apparatus is controlled by and responsive to the 
Government, monitoring, supervision, and education of the police in 
particular remain poor. 
 
After years of economic mismanagement, Ghana is trying to put its 
economy back on a sustainable growth track.  The economy remains highly 
dependent on agriculture, with about 45 percent of gross domestic 
product (GDP) derived from this sector.  Gold, cocoa, and timber are 
traditional sources of export earnings.  The Government has announced 
its intention to privatize numerous state-owned enterprises, but 
progress has been slow to date.  The nontraditional export sector is 
growing but still makes up a very small proportion of the overall 
economy.  Weak performance in the agricultural sector in 1994 resulted 
in real GDP growth of 3.8 percent, barely ahead of annual population 
growth of about 3 percent. 
 
Progress in respect for human rights was mixed, after several years in 
which the situation had unquestionably been improving.  The small but 
independent press, human rights monitoring groups, and opposition 
parties were vigorous and outspoken in criticizing various aspects of 
government policy.  Even the government-owned media, which reach by far 
the largest audience and have long been silent about government policy, 
felt sufficiently confident to criticize individual agencies and 
departments.  Nevertheless, doubts remain as to the Government's 
willingness to permit free and independent broadcast journalism.  With 
the release of journalist Gershon Dompreh in February after 8 years in 
prison for possession of classified government documents, there remain 
no further known political prisoners or detainees. 
 
Police were implicated in the beatings of criminal suspects; at least 
one prisoner died in custody, almost certainly as a result of severe 
beatings inflicted by guards.  Abuses stemming from pretrial detentions 
continue, and prison conditions remain harsh.  Although the Government, 
through its CHRAJ, instituted programs aimed at educating the police and 
military to respect constitutionally guaranteed rights, there is no 
independent framework to review or scrutinize the security forces' 
actions.  Human rights abuses, such as beatings and detention without 
charge, still go unreported, although individual awareness of 
constitutionally guaranteed rights is increasing, along with government 
and independent press reporting of such incidents.  However, traditional 
practices result in considerable discrimination and abuse of women, with 
violence against women a particular problem. 
 
In the year's most disturbing development, on May 11 unknown persons 
fired upon peaceful demonstrators in the process of dispersing, killing 
four persons.  At year's end, it was still unclear who had been 
ultimately responsible for arming the counter-protestors, but there were 
credible accusations that the Minister for Youth and Sports was 
responsible.  However, the Government failed to establish an independent 
commission to investigate the incident, thereby staining its human 
rights record. 
 
In contrast, the Government supported its high-profile CHRAJ in its 
investigations and mediation of cases.  Although the Commission has the 
authority to arbitrate individual cases, it has no enforcement powers.  
It has, however, been active in educating public officials and community 
leaders and in critically examining:  charges of corruption against 
high-ranking government officials; the Government's performance in 
prison administration and prison conditions; and illegal government 
confiscations of property. 
 
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
from: 
 
   a.   Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 
 
There were two reported deaths of suspects in police custody.  In 
January the government press reported in considerable detail that police 
had arrested a 35-year-old man from Tetrem in the Ashanti region for 
stealing cassava.  He attempted to escape but was recaptured and 
severely beaten with batons by policemen.  He was not hospitalized for 4 
days and died shortly thereafter.  His autopsy revealed extensive 
beatings.  The CHRAJ reports that the offending officers have been 
suspended from service and are currently awaiting trial. 
 
In June the press reported another death of a suspect in police custody.  
In this case, police discovered a 22-year-old man in New Tafo, Eastern 
region hanged in his cell.  Based upon reported evidence, the police 
appear to have been innocent of wrongdoing.  The police insisted that 
the death was a suicide, but the deceased's parents claimed that a self-
performed hanging was impossible in this cell and that authorities had 
buried his body too hastily.  As detailed in the government press, an 
investigation by the Special Police Command exonerated the police, 
stating that a post mortem investigation confirmed death by hanging and 
that the body in fact had been released to the family. 
 
The government press reported in September that a suspect in Kade was 
shot and killed by police while in custody, despite the fact that he had 
been granted bail and was to have been released 2 months previously.  
According to the press, the family requested an inquiry by the Inspector 
General of Police, but by year's end it was unknown if such an 
investigation would be undertaken. 
 
The responsibility of elements in the ruling party for killing four 
protesters and bystanders during a May demonstration is unknown but 
appears likely (see Section 2.b.). 
 
Journalist Kwesi Pratt was unsuccessful in his continued efforts to 
persuade the Government to investigate extrajudicial killings in the 
early years of PNDC rule, despite police professions in 1993 of 
willingness to investigate such killings. 
 
   b.   Disappearance 
 
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances. 
 
   c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment 
 
The Constitution states that the dignity of all persons shall be 
inviolable and that no one shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, 
inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, or any other condition 
that detracts from human dignity.  Nonetheless, there were credible 
reports that members of the police beat prisoners and other citizens.  
However, the police showed restrain in handling large crowds, including 
during antigovernment demonstrations in May (see Section 2.b.). 
 
There were several press accounts of investigations by police 
authorities in cases of police brutality.  However, the results made 
public were generally those in which suspects were exonerated. 
 
Prisons are in most cases very poorly maintained, and conditions are 
extremely harsh.  In February CHRAJ reported that prisons were 
unsanitary and overcrowded, that conditions can be considered cruel, 
inhuman, or degrading, as defined by the United Nations, and also were 
in violation of Ghana's own Constitution.  The Commissioner further 
acknowledged that prisons provide inadequate nutrition and medical 
services to inmates.  Although the Government has occasionally commuted 
the sentences of ill or aged prisoners, its failure to provide adequate 
and timely medical care to prisoners has resulted in deaths.  In April 
the press reported that several small children were imprisoned with 
their mothers.  The Ghana Prisons Service took immediate action, placing 
the children with other family members or orphanages.  CHRAJ inspections 
in August revealed that youth and adult inmates were housed together. 
 
The Government allows monitoring of prison conditions by representatives 
of the International Committee of the Red Cross. 
 
   d.   Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 
 
The Constitution provides for protection against arbitrary arrest, 
detention, or exile and states that an individual detained shall be 
informed immediately, in a language the detained person understands, of 
the reasons for the detention, and of the right to a lawyer and to an 
interpreter, the latter at state expense.  It also requires judicial 
warrants for arrest and provides for arraignment within 48 hours.  In 
practice, however, many abuses occur, including detention without charge 
for longer than 48 hours and failure to obtain a warrant for arrest. 
 
The court has unlimited discretion regarding the setting of bail, which 
can be excessive.  It may refuse to release prisoners on bail and 
instead remand them without charge for an indefinite period, subject to 
weekly review by judicial authorities.  It is common to remand a 
prisoner to investigative custody.  The Constitution requires, however, 
that a detainee who has not been tried within a "reasonable" time shall 
be released either unconditionally or subject to conditions necessary to 
ensure that he appears at a later date for court proceedings.  
Approximately 30 percent of the prison population consists of pretrial 
detainees.  Despite the provisions of the law, abuses occur.  People are 
sometimes detained for trivial offenses or unsubstantiated accusations. 
 
In one highly publicized case, a murder suspect, a citizen of Burkina 
Faso, was released after 16 years' remand.  His release was the result 
of the CHRAJ's investigation of prison conditions.  After learning of 
his plight, the Commission initiated legal proceedings resulting in his 
release. 
 
In June eight detainees in a Cape Coast prison, with the support of 
other inmates, revolted, demanding their constitutionally guaranteed 
right to a speedy trial.  According to a report in the government press, 
some remanded suspects have been in prison for 2 to 3 years. 
 
There were no known political arrests in 1995.  The Government does not 
practice forced exile and encourages citizens with valuable skills who 
are living abroad to return, including dissidents.  Some former 
government and discredited PNDC officials have returned and resumed 
careers and political activities. 
 
   e.   Denial of Fair Public Trial 
 
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the 
Government posed no serious challenges to judicial independence during 
the year.  However, the Ghana Bar Association protested the confirmation 
of Chief Justice Abban, alleging that he is unqualified for the position 
and that the President had forced his confirmation through Parliament 
without sufficient time for debate or public hearings.  There were no 
charges of judicial corruption.  Nevertheless, the integrity of the 
legal system is compromised by a severe lack of financial, human, and 
material resources in the judicial service. 
 
The Constitution establishes two basic levels of courts: superior and 
lower.  The superior courts include the Supreme Court, the Appeals 
Court, the High Court, and regional tribunals.  Parliament may establish 
lower courts or tribunals by decree.  Legal safeguards are based on 
British legal procedures.  Defendants are presumed innocent, trials are 
public, and defendants have a right to be present, to be represented by 
an attorney (at public expense if necessary), to present evidence, and 
to cross-examine witnesses.  In practice, authorities respect these 
safeguards. 
 
The CHRAJ's charter provides for it to investigate alleged violations of 
human rights and take action to remedy proven violations.  To date, it 
has held workshops to educate the public, traditional leaders, the 
police, and the military on human rights issues.  It mediates and 
settles cases brought to it by individuals with grievances against 
government agencies or private companies.  In 1993 and 1994 (the most 
recent figures), the CHRAJ received over 3,000 petitions in its offices 
around the country and disposed of over 1,000.  About 70 percent of the 
complaints lodged with the Commission were labor and workplace related. 
 
The Chieftaincy Act of 1971 gives village and other traditional chiefs 
powers to mediate local matters, including authority to enforce 
customary tribal laws dealing with such matters as divorce, child 
custody, and property disputes. 
 
There were no reports of political prisoners.  The last known political 
prisoner was Gershon Dompreh, released in January 1995. 
 
   f.   Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 
 
Observers assume that the Government continues to engage in surveillance 
of citizens engaged in activity which it deems objectionable.  In the 
past, this included monitoring of telephones and mail. 
 
Although the law requires judicial search warrants, police do not always 
obtain them.  The Constitution provides that a person shall be free from 
interference within the privacy of his home, property, correspondence, 
or communication.  This article has yet to be tested. 
 
Section 2   Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 
 
   a.   Freedom of Speech and Press 
 
The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and 
opposition political parties and others have used these freedoms to 
criticize the Government.  In general, the Government has not suppressed 
the exercise of freedom of speech by the print media but has continually 
pressured the government-run media for conformity.  Also, it has yet to 
implement free speech or free press for broadcasting.  The Government 
dominates the print and electronic media, controlling the radio and 
television stations and the two daily newspapers. 
 
The official media continue to emphasize positive aspects of government 
policies, although they also report charges of corruption or 
mismanagement in government ministries and state-owned enterprises.  The 
state-owned media do not directly criticize government policies or 
President Rawlings, although they often print articles that criticize 
individual governmental agencies.  The Government occasionally subjects 
journalists to discipline or dismissal for articles deemed unacceptable.  
On occasion, the government-owned media printed editorials critical of 
the Government but which did not criticize top officials. 
 
The independent press continues to publish unimpeded, with newspapers 
and magazines critical of the Government, including personal attacks on 
the President, his wife, and his close advisers.  However, independent 
newspapers and magazines tend to be small and poorly financed, with 
little circulation outside major cities.  There are accusations that the 
Government indirectly manipulates the independent press by refusing to 
do business with companies that advertise in opposition newspapers.  
However, advertising is steadily increasing in the independent 
newspapers.  Foreign periodicals are sold in Accra and other major 
cities.  Issues containing articles critical of the Government circulate 
freely. 
 
Most Ghanaians obtain their news from the government-owned electronic 
media and British Broadcasting Corporation radio.  Under the 
Constitution, individuals are free to own radio and television stations.  
However, independent broadcasters have encountered countless obstacles 
and delays in their attempts to gain access to the government-
monopolized airwaves.  One firm, the Independent Media Corporation of 
Ghana (IMCG), began broadcasting in November 1994 after having waited 
for almost 1 year without result in their application for a license.  
Several weeks after IMCG's appearance on the airwaves, the police seized 
its transmission equipment, citing the station's failure to obtain 
authorization to broadcast.  The equipment remains confiscated despite a 
High Court ruling that the police had acted illegally and that the 
equipment should be returned. 
 
For the greater part of the year, the Government procrastinated in 
allocating frequencies to numerous private applicants.  A list of the 
first frequency recipients appeared in July and comprised 36 
organizations, including IMCG.  This was the first critical step toward 
independent broadcasting in Ghana.  Despite the constitutional 
prohibition of "impediments to the establishment of private press or 
media," the new frequency holders must pay a nonrefundable "commitment 
fee" in order to operate.   
 
Meanwhile, there are still no genuinely autonomous radio stations.  One 
radio station, Radio Joy, appeared unexpectedly in April without 
authorization from the Ministry of information or the Frequency 
Allocation Board.  Its directors, many of whom are associated with high 
government officials, negotiated a special deal with the government-run 
Ghana Broadcasting Corporation to obtain one of its unused frequencies.  
The issue of allowing independent broadcasting companies to operate, and 
therefore of providing the opposition with a stronger political voice, 
will increase in importance as Ghana approaches major elections in late 
1996. 
 
Civil suits for libel are allowed, and the Criminal Libel Law holds the 
potential for inhibiting the freedom of the press.  This law allows 
criminal prosecution in cases where a false report injures the credit or 
reputation of the State.  This is at odds with the Constitution, which 
prohibits criminal prosecution for the publication of any item, true or 
not, by any individual.  Currently a publisher and an editor of an 
independent paper, charged with criminal libel, are free on bail but 
awaiting trial.  State attorneys are prosecuting the case based on 
defamatory remarks made about the first lady, whom they define as a 
government official.  In early 1995, a journalist was accused of 
insulting the Chief Justice in print and served 30 days in prison for 
contempt of court. 
 
There has been no restriction of academic freedom on university 
campuses.  The National Union of Ghanian Students, one of the more vocal 
critics of the Government, is allowed to organize and hold meetings. 
 
   b.   Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 
 
The Constitution provides for freedom of peaceful assembly and 
association; it does not require permits for demonstrations.  However, 
Parliament passed a public order bill in late 1994 requiring that all 
organizers of "special events" or "processions" inform the police of 
their intentions so that the police can institute precautionary 
measures.  The new law also provides for curfews and arrest without 
warrants in specified instances. 
 
The Government's commitment to respect the right of peaceful assembly 
was drawn into serious question when unknown persons killed four 
protestors after an otherwise orderly demonstration in Accra.  
Demonstrators organized by the AFC marched peacefully on May 11 to 
protest the Government's new value added tax, but they were fired upon 
by counter-demonstrators when dispersing.  Although the AFC and the 
independent press praised police conduct during the demonstration, they 
also provided credible evidence that it was the Minister of Youth and 
Sports who had organized and armed the counter- demonstrators.  The 
Government has ignored repeated requests to establish an independent 
commission to investigate the affair.  Instead, the Minister of the 
Interior released a statement in September claiming that a police 
committee was unable to identify any specific individuals responsible 
for the shootings, and the matter was thus closed.  The police 
committee's report has never been publicly released. 
 
The Government's likely involvement and its failure to take decisive 
action to resolve the case of these four killings constitute the biggest 
stain on Ghana's 1995 human rights record. 
 
   c.   Freedom of Religion 
 
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government 
respects this right in practice. 
 
There is no state-favored religion and no apparent advantages or 
disadvantages attached to membership in any particular sect or religion.  
Foreign missionary groups have generally operated throughout the country 
with a minimum of formal restrictions. 
 
   d.   Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Emigration, and Repatriation 
 
Citizens and foreigners are free to move throughout the country without 
special permission.  Police checkpoints exist countrywide to prevent 
smuggling, but most are left unmanned during daylight hours.  Roadblocks 
and car searches are a normal part of nighttime travel in Accra. 
 
Citizens are generally free to travel internationally and to emigrate or 
to be repatriated from other countries.  Since Ghana is a member of the 
Economic Community of West African States, Ghanaians may travel without 
visas for up to 90 days in member states. 
 
Since March 1994, members of the Konkomba tribe in the Northern region 
have been afraid to enter towns and cities in that region due to ongoing 
ethnic conflicts (see Section 5).  For the Konkomba, who rely on trading 
agricultural products as their sole source of income, the inability to 
travel is a tremendous hardship.  Since March 1994, a number of Konkomba 
have sought refuge in Togo as a result of ethnic conflict in the north. 
 
The Government has a liberal policy of accepting refugees from other 
West African nations, and Ghana continues to host substantial refugee 
populations, including approximately 94,000 Togolese who fled to Ghana 
in 1993 and an estimated 20,000 Liberians. 
 
Section 3   Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to 
Change Their Government 
 
Citizens last exercised the right to change their government through a 
democratic process in presidential elections held in 1992.  
International observers noted serious problems in the electoral process 
but concluded, on balance, that they did not change the outcome.  
However, opposition parties protested the results by boycotting 
subsequent parliamentary elections. 
 
Thus, except for 3 independent members, all 200 Members of Parliament 
belong to one of the three parties that supported President Rawlings, 
whose NDC party won 95 percent of the seats in the parliamentary and 
presidential elections of 1992.  The Government has taken some steps to 
bring the opposition into the political process, including electoral 
reform.  The NDC lost its first by-election ever in July to an 
independent candidate.  Although the loss was likely due to a split in 
an NDC alliance, this defeat could perhaps be interpreted as a sign of 
rising public discontent with the political status quo. 
 
In preparation for major elections in 1996, the Government created a 
National Electoral Commission to supervise voting.  All significant 
political parties are represented on the Commission. 
 
The Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, and there 
are no obstacles to the participation of women in government.  Several 
ministers and Council of State members are women.  There are 16 female 
parliamentarians.   
 
Section 4   Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights 
 
Human rights organizations continued to grow in number and strength, but 
the threat of government interference may hinder their ability to 
operate freely.  The Government has drafted a bill that would require 
NGO's to register with a National Advisory Council.  This Council, 
consisting primarily of government appointees, would have the authority 
to deny, suspend, or cancel an NGO's right to operate.  The bill, which 
would also apply to international NGO's, remained pending at year's end. 
 
Section 5   Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, 
Language, or Social Status 
 
The Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, 
religion, disability, language, or social status.  The courts are 
specifically empowered to enforce these prohibitions, although 
enforcement by the authorities is generally inadequate, in part due to 
limited financial resources. 
 
   Women 
 
Violence against women, including rape and wife beating, remains a 
significant problem.  These abuses usually go unreported and seldom come 
before the courts.  The police tend not to intervene in domestic 
disputes.  However, the media increasingly report cases of assault and 
rape. 
 
Women continue to experience societal discrimination.  Women in urban 
centers and those with skills and training encounter little overt bias, 
but resistance to women in nontraditional roles persists.  Women, 
especially in rural areas, remain subject to burdensome labor conditions 
and traditional male dominance.  Often deeply entrenched traditions and 
the use of traditional courts to handle family matters deny them 
rightful inheritances and property, a legally registered marriage (and 
with it, certain legal rights), recourse to divorce, and the maintenance 
and custody of children, all provided for by law. 
 
Women's rights groups are active in educational campaigns and in 
programs to provide vocational training, legal aid, and other support to 
women.  The Government is also active in educational programs in support 
of women's rights. 
 
   Children 
 
Within the limits of its resources, the Government is committed to 
protecting the rights and welfare of children.  There is little or no 
discrimination against females in education, but girls and women 
frequently drop out due to societal or economic pressures.  Statistics 
show an equal male to female ratio in school enrollments in grade 1, 
dropping to 2 to 1 by grade 6, 4 to 1 at the secondary level, and 9 to 1 
at the university level. 
 
There are several traditional discriminatory practices that are 
injurious to female health and development.  In particular, female 
genital mutilation (FGM), which is widely condemned by international 
health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health, is 
a serious problem.  According to one study, the percentage of women who 
have undergone this procedure may be as high as 30 percent, although 
most observers believe 15 percent to be more accurate.  FGM is practiced 
mostly in Muslim communities in the far northeastern and northwestern 
parts of the country.  As of 1994, FGM became a criminal act, and courts 
have convicted at least one practitioner to date. 
 
Another practice, found primarily in the Volta region, is an especially 
severe abuse and a flagrant violation of children's rights.  The tro-
kosi (or "vestal virgin") system is a traditional practice in which a 
young girl, usually under the age of 10, is made a slave to a fetish 
shrine for offenses allegedly committed by a member of the girl's 
family.  The belief is that if someone in that family has committed a 
crime, such as stealing, members of the family may begin to die in large 
numbers unless a young girl is given to the local fetish shrine to atone 
for the offense.  The girl becomes the property of the fetish priest and 
is often required to perform sexual favors.  These girls are seldom 
allowed to go to school and must work on the priest's farm and perform 
other labors for him, but the girls' families must provide food for 
their meals.  When the fetish slave dies or is released, usually without 
skills or the likelihood of marriage, the family is expected to replace 
her with another young girl for the fetish shrine.  Although the 
Constitution outlaws slavery, the Parliament has yet to pass a law 
explicitly prohibiting tro-kosi.  The practice persists because of 
deeply entrenched traditional beliefs to which even high-ranking 
officials reportedly adhere.  Nevertheless, it is unlikely that 
legislation alone would eliminate the practice.  There are an estimated 
1,000 fetish slaves bound to various shrines. 
 
Other traditional practices that violate the human rights of children 
are forced childhood marriages and tribal scarring, deep cuts made to 
the face to show membership in a particular tribe.  The prostitution of 
female children exists despite its illegality. 
 
   People with Disabilities 
 
The Constitution specifically provides for the rights of people with 
disabilities, including protection against exploitation and 
discrimination.  It also states that "as far as practicable, every place 
to which the public has access shall have appropriate facilities for 
disabled persons."  In practice, however, this provision has yet to be 
implemented. 
 
   National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities 
 
Although the Government plays down the importance of ethnic differences, 
its opponents occasionally complain that it is dominated by the Ewe 
ethnic group from eastern Ghana.  The President and many of his close 
advisers are Ewe, but many ministers are of other ethnic origins. 
 
There were continuing tensions and violence between ethnic groups in the 
northern region, which left as many as 20,000 dead and 100,000 injured 
in 1994 and 150 dead in 1995.  Peace negotiations, underway since the 
initial violence in 1994, have not made substantive progress, and the 
Government has done little to push the negotiations forward and bring an 
end to the violence (see also Section 2.d.). 
 
Section 6   Worker Rights 
 
   a.   The Right of Association 
 
This right is restricted, as the Trades Union Ordinance confers broad 
powers on the Government to refuse to register a trade union.  However, 
neither the PNDC nor the present Government has interfered with the 
right of workers to associate in labor unions. 
 
About 9 percent of workers belong to unions, a figure that has been 
declining slowly over the past several years.  The Industrial Relations 
Act (IRA), initially written in 1958, amended in 1965 and 1972, governs 
trade unions and their activities.  The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is 
the only existing confederation, although it has no legal monopoly.  In 
recent years it has been led by experienced union leaders who, aided by 
a revised union constitution and by-laws, continued to define an 
autonomous role for the TUC within the NDC regime.   
 
Since the 1992 elections, the TUC has taken a somewhat more 
confrontational stance vis-a-vis the Government and has criticized some 
of its economic policies.  Civil servants have their own union, the 
Civil Servants Association, which operates outside of the TUC umbrella.  
Government employees of several different departments and agencies went 
out on strike this year without government retribution. 
 
The law recognizes the right to strike.  Under the IRA, the Government 
established a system of settling disputes, first through conciliation, 
then through arbitration.  A union may call a legal strike if 
negotiations and mediation fail.  However, because no union has ever 
gone through the complete process, there have been no legal strikes 
since independence.  The University Teachers Association of Ghana went 
on strike to protest the absence of pay increases, effectively closing 
the nation's university system for most of the academic year.  The IRA 
prohibits retribution against strikers, and this law is enforced.  There 
has been no progress in implementing the Government's declared intention 
to establish labor tribunals to arbitrate industrial disputes certified 
as deadlocked. 
 
Unions have the right to affiliate with international bodies.  The TUC 
is affiliated with the Organization of African Trade Union Unity, 
headquartered in Accra and is also a member of the International 
Confederation of Free Trade Unions. 
 
   b.   The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 
 
The IRA provides a framework for collective bargaining and some 
protection against antiunion discrimination as well.  Trade unions 
engage in collective bargaining for wages and benefits with both private 
and state-owned enterprises without government interference.  The 
Government, labor, and employers negotiate together, however, through a 
tripartite commission to set minimum standards for wages and working 
conditions.  The law requires employers found guilty of antiunion 
discrimination to reinstate workers fired for union activities.  No 
union leaders have been detained in recent years for union or other 
activities. 
 
There is one operating export processing zone (EPZ), with legislation 
approving others imminent.  EPZ's are subject to the same labor laws as 
in the rest of the country. 
 
   c.   Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 
 
The law prohibits forced labor, and it is not known to be practiced 
except in the tro-kosi system (see Section 5).  The International Labor 
Organization (ILO) continues to urge the Government to revise various 
legal provisions that permit imprisonment with an obligation to perform 
labor for offenses that are not countenanced under ILO Convention 105. 
 
   d.   Minimum Age for Employment of Children 
 
Labor legislation sets a minimum employment age of 15 and prohibits 
night work and certain types of hazardous labor for those under 18 years 
of age.  In practice, child employment is widespread, and young children 
of school age often perform menial tasks during the day in the market or 
collect fares on local buses.  Observance of minimum age laws is eroded 
by local custom and economic circumstances that encourage children to 
work to help their families. 
 
Officials only occasionally punish violators of regulations which 
prohibit heavy labor and night work for children.  Inspectors from the 
Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare are responsible for enforcement of 
child labor regulations.  They visit each workplace annually and make 
spot checks whenever they receive allegations of violations. 
 
   e.   Acceptable Conditions of Work 
 
In 1991 minimum standards for wages and working conditions were set by a 
tripartite commission composed of representatives of the Government, 
labor, and employers.  The daily minimum wage, revised in 1995, combines 
wages with customary benefits, such as a transportation allowance.  The 
current daily minimum wage is the equivalent of $1.00 (1,200 cedis).  
This sum is insufficient for a single wage earner to support a family.  
In most cases households have multiple wage earners, some family 
farming, and other family based commercial activities. 
 
The law sets the maximum workweek at 45 hours, with one break of at 
least 36 consecutive hours every 7 days.  Through collective bargaining, 
however, the basic workweek for most unionized workers is 40 hours.  
Occupational safety and health regulations are in effect, and the Labor 
Department of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare occasionally 
imposes sanctions on violators.  Safety inspectors are few, however, and 
poorly trained.  They take action if matters are called to their 
attention, but lack the resources to seek out violations.  Workers have 
the right to withdraw themselves from dangerous work situations without 
jeopardy to continued employment, but they rarely exercise this right. 
 
(###)


[end of document]

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