Ghana: Government censors reporting on ethnic strife

April 2, 2002

His Excellency President John Kufuor
The Castle P.O. Box 1627
Accra, Ghana

Via facsimile: (233) 21 664 089

Your Excellency:

CPJ is alarmed that your government has imposed controls on reporting about recent interclan clashes in the northern Dagbon area of Ghana.

On March 30, Minister of Information Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey stated that unless journalists are writing about an official press release, they are required to clear stories on the conflict in Dagbon with the ministry.

On March 27, Your Excellency declared a state of emergency after a local tribal king and several of his supporters were killed during feuding between rival clans. Under the 1994 Emergency Powers Act, the government may censor any news from or about an area affected by a state of emergency.

Local journalists fear the government will use the state of emergency to censor critical or unfavorable reporting. Such a move would belie the advances Ghana has made toward a more open press since your January 2001 inauguration.

The freedom to seek, receive, and impart information is guaranteed under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and journalists must be free to report on matters of clear public interest, including civil conflicts such as the one in Dagbon.

As a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the defense of press freedom worldwide, CPJ calls on you to do everything within your power to ensure that the Ghanaian media can cover these and other stories without government interference.

Thank you for your attention to these important matters. We await your reply.


Ann Cooper
Executive Director