Pressure group OccupyGhana, "in resolute advocacy for good governance, the rule of law, and the protection of civil liberties", has "strongly" voiced its concerns regarding the recent arrests of peaceful demonstrators by the Ghana Police on a public holiday, who were subsequently reported to be 'processed for unlawful public gathering".
"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. These rights, enshrined in the Constitution, should be unwaveringly upheld and respected by all state institutions", the group, who shot to fame with a similar demonstration, said in a statement.
Some 49 #OccupyJulorbiHouse protesters were arrested and allegedly roughed up on Thursday, 21 September 2023, during the first day of their protest againt the Akufo-Addo government.
A BBC journalist and his cameraman were also arrested.
OccupyGhana said the "recent arrests have raised serious questions about the appropriateness of the response by law enforcement agencies", noting: "Instead of opting for peaceful dialogue and cooperation with the demonstrators, the police chose to resort to arrests".
"It is important to note that these arrests took place during a time when potential traffic disruptions would have been minimal. OccupyGhana firmly asserts that alternative, less confrontational approaches could and should have been pursued to effectively manage the situation".
Furthermore, OccupyGhana said, "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 recalled: "About 30 years ago, the Supreme Court held in New Patriotic Party v Inspector General of Police, in relation to the fundamental freedom of assembly including the freedom to take part in processions and demonstrations, that provisions in the erstwhile Public Order Decree that required a prior police permit to demonstrate were inconsistent with the current Constitution".
It said: "The situation where the statutory requirement to now notify and cooperate with the police is being interpreted, applied and enforced as a de facto permit to demonstrate is unconstitutional and must give way to a more nuanced, liberal and permissive understanding of the constitutional rights of citizens to peacefully assemble and express their views".
"We are informed that those who were arrested (which should not have happened in the first place) have now been released, which is a positive development".
"OccupyGhana implores the Ghana Police to uphold the rule of law and show due respect for the constitutional rights of all citizens. We call for a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding these arrests to ensure justice is served and the rights of peaceful demonstrators are diligently safeguarded".
"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. Together, let us ensure that such incidents do not recur in the future".
"Our firm commitment remains rooted in our mission to advocate for transparency, accountability and the unwavering protection of civil liberties in Ghana".