ACCRA, 17JUNE 2022

A constitutional litigation in the Ghana High Court seeking redress for discrimination against and the unlawful arrest and detention of LGBTI activists and community members in Ghana

On 14 June 2022, the litigants in the case, with the support of Queer Ghana Education Fund (QuGEF)/Coalition For SupportGH and other LGBTI organisations in Ghana, filed originating motions at the Ghana High Court, Ho against the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney General of Ghana to seek amends for violation of the constitutional rights of the litigants.

Case background

On 20 May 2021, two Ghanaian LGBTI-led organizations hosted a paralegal and human rights training workshop on intersex rights for their volunteers in Ho, Volta region. During the training, police raided the meeting, claiming they had been informed that the group was having an LGBT conference. The 21 participants and organizers (also referred to as “Ho 21”) were arrested and taken to the police station, where they were detained and charged with “unlawful assembly”.  The police released a press statement announcing the arrests due to an unlawful assembly according to sections 201 and 202 of the Criminal Defence Act.  After being denied bail several times, the detainees were finally granted bail by the Ho High Court on 11 June 2021 on the basis that not doing so would be an infringement of their fundamental rights.  In August 2021, the case was dismissed by the Ho Circuit Court due to the Prosecutor and AG acknowledging there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the group for unlawful assembly with the supposed purpose of promoting same-sex activities. Throughout the period of their unlawful arrest and detention, the individuals were subjected to harassment, assault, discriminatory treatment and other violations of their constitutional rights.

Argument summary

Two separate cases have been filed based on the above facts. One case is to challenge the State’s actions as violations of right to freedom of assembly, discrimination, unlawful arrest and detention and malicious prosecution and seeking to utilise Resolution 275 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.  Three of the arrestees are litigants in this case. The second case is on behalf of an intersex woman who was a participant at the workshop and who was singled out by prison guards for harassment and discriminatory treatment while in detention for her intersex status. The claimants are asking for various reliefs from the court, in particular, that the arrest of 20 May 2021 and the various harassing and abusive treatments including unlawful searches, physical assault, verbal abuse, intimidation, deprivation, and sexual and other forms of harassment were a violation of their constitutional rights. The claimants are also requesting a declaration that the disruption of the paralegal training program violated the rights of the victims to the protection of law, to information, and to equality and freedom from discrimination on grounds of gender.

Case practice

The litigants are being represented in court by Dr Justice Srem-sai of Praetorium Solicitors. In addition to (QuGEF)/Coalition For SupportGH and other LGBTI organisations in Ghana, the two cases are also being supported by Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) who are acting as advisors to counsel and the litigants.

 Join the conversation on social media by following:

Twitter: @ISLAfrica

Facebook: @ISLAfrica

Hashtag: #Ho21

For further enquiries kindly contact:

Dr Ayodele Sogunro.                                                   Fischere Richard Kwofie

Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa                QuGEF /COALITION FOR SUPPORTGH

Sexual Rights (Locum) Lawyer.                                 Director /Programs Director

Email:                            /