ICJ condemns detention of two Ghanaian lawyers

The ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers (CIJL) has called on the government of Ghana to release two leading lawyers detained without charges.

In a letter to Ghana’s head of State, Flight-Lieutenant J.J. Rawlings, the two Geneva-based organizations noted that the attorneys, Mr. Peter Ala Adjetey, National President of the Ghana Bar Association, and Mr. Nutifafa Kuenyehia, National Secretary of the Ghana Bar Association, had been criticized by the government for their plans to recall the 1982 murders of three Ghanaian judges.

Mr. Adjetey is reported to have been arrested on 23 June 1989, and Mr. Kuenyehia, on 27 June. No reasons have been given for the arrests. However, according to local sources, the two were arrested for organizing a series of lectures in Accra, the capital, in observance of the 1982 murders. Editorials in the government-owned media accused the Ghana Bar Association of exploiting the 1982 murders for political purposes, and asserted the government’s responsibility for preventing subversion of the “revolutionary process.”

The ICJ, which has worked to promote the rule of law for thirty years and which was the first recipient of the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Prize, and its CIJL, which seeks to defend lawyers and judges in all parts of the world, also expressed concern about the Ghanaian government’s criticisms of the Ghana Bar Association. While the Ghana Bar Association has been engaged in attempts to promote judicial integrity, its activities have been criticized by the government as “subversive.”

The ICJ and the CIJL called on the Ghanaian government to observe Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees to all people “the right to freedom of expression,” and “the right to hold opinions without interference,” as well as Article 20, which guarantees “the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”

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