Ghana must condemn attacks on civil society members
The Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Africa Steering Committee calls on the Ghanaian government to urgently, swiftly and categorically condemn recent attacks on civil society members in the national media ; and to ensure that all civil society actors are able to speak freely on issues pertinent to the good governance of natural resource sector, without fear or recrimination.
The PWYP Africa Steering Committee has observed with great concern that a group of activists from civil society organisations in Ghana have come under attack from some parts of the national media for questioning the benefit for the country of a proposed transaction between Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and Aker Energy for two oil blocks.
On 5 August, the Alliance of CSOs working on Extractives, Anti-Corruption and Good Governance, which includes PWYP Ghana, issued a public statement detailing six points about the proposed transaction on which they raised legitimate concerns, and requested further information and scrutiny.
On 12 August, a number of newspapers published similar articles in print and online, naming four persons from the Alliance, along with their photographs, and accusing them of pursuing an “anti-Ghana” agenda on account of raising their concerns. The article quoted in detail conversations between the Alliance members, which had been leaked.
As a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) since 2007, the Ghanaian government has publicly demonstrated its adherence to the principles of transparency and accountability in the management of the country’s natural resource wealth. We note that Ghana is compliant with the EITI Standard, and we commend the government and civil society in Ghana for their commitment to overseeing the implementation of EITI over the past 14 years. We also note that compliance with the EITI Standard includes an explicit commitment to ensuring that “Civil society representatives are able to speak freely on transparency and natural resource governance issues” (Requirement 2.5 of the EITI Civil Society Protocol) and to do so “without restraint, coercion or reprisal” (Requirement 2.1 of the EITI Civil Society Protocol).
In light of this situation, we call on the Ghanaian government to condemn urgently, swiftly and categorically the attacks in the media on the civil society alliance members who are signatories to the statement of the Alliance, in line with their commitment to the principles of the EITI; and to ensure that all civil society actors are able to speak freely on issues pertinent to the good governance of Ghana’s natural resource sector, without fear or recrimination.
“It is the responsibility of the Ghanaian authorities to protect civic space, without which Ghana cannot maintain its compliance with the EITI, which would be contrary to the leadership shown by Ghana in terms of governance on the continent,” said Christian Mounzeo, Chair of the Africa Steering Committee.
We stand in solidarity with all our civil society colleagues in Ghana at this time.
PWYP Africa Steering Committee
Christian Mounzeo, President and representative for Central Africa
Fatima Mimbire, Vice-Chair and representative for East and Southern Africa
James Koryor, representative for Anglophone West Africa
Fatima Diallo, representative for Francophone West Africa
Brice Mackosso, member of the EITI international board
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