The right to safety and freedom is a constitutional right. In fact, article 12(1) talks about the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms. Article 13(1) provides that “No person shall be deprived of his life intentionally except in the exercise of the execution of a sentence of a court in respect of criminal offence under the laws of Ghana of which he has been convicted”.
This section implies that, it is only a court of competent jurisdiction that has the lawful duty to deprive a citizen of his life based on criminal offence committed by that citizen, and dully established beyond reasonable doubt that indeed, the criminal act was actually committed by that person.a
The state has the responsibility to protect every citizen within its territorial boarders from attack, be it within or from external sources. Mroz (1991), viewed national security as the relative freedom from harmful threats. Obasanjo (1999) stated that national security is the aggregate of the security interest of all individuals, communities, ethnic groups and the entire political entity.
Macfarlare (1994) defines security as the protection of assets including people against damage, injury or loss from internal and external causes. Albert (2003) sees security as involving the survival of the state and the protection of individuals and groups within the state.
From the above definitions, it is evidently clear that, the fundamental duty of a sovereign state is to safeguard its citizens and resources against any attack, either within or outside the state’s territorial boarders. The essence of this article is to examine the potential threat of insecurity on economic growth and development, largely, due to the Ejura incident in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.
The Ejura Shooting Saga
The events which led to the shooting incident and the eventual death of two people, started with the murder of a social activist, “Fix the Country” campaigner, Ibrahim Kaaka Mohammed, which occurred on Monday, June 28, 2021, after he was allegedly attacked by a mob. According to citinewsroom.com report, while the people were returning from Kaaka’s burial, some residents started protesting, but were confronted by police and military officers, which subsequently resulted in the death of two persons after six were hit by the bullets. In fact, the incident attracted condemnation from notable institutions such as the Catholic Bishops Conferences, CSOs etc. as well as decerning Ghanaians both home and abroad.
Indeed, I am not a security expert so am unable to determine the cause of the unfortunate event. That responsibility now rests with the committee set-up by the Minister of Interior. My attempt in this piece is to draw the attention of government to ensure that the right mechanism is put in place to safeguard the security of all citizens in the country. Failure to do so may have devastating consequences on the health of the economy.w
The right to demonstrate
The tenets of democracy demands that citizens should be allowed to fully participate in a national discourse. In fact, as part of shaping policies and ensuring progressive development, citizens can express their displeasure with any policy or decision of government. This is mostly done through demonstration.
The beauty of the 1992 Constitution is that, it guarantees the right to demonstrate. Indeed, article 21(1)(d) of the Constitution provides that all persons shall have the right to freedom of assembly including freedom to take part in processions and demonstrations. In the case of New Patriotic Party v Inspector General of Police, the Supreme Court of Ghana, per Justice Amua-Sekyi affirmed the above constitutional provision.
Per the decision of the Supreme Court, it implies that the police cannot stop any citizen or group of individuals, or association from taking part in processions and demonstrations, except by court order. It is imperative to state that, in exercising the right to participate in processions and demonstrations, one must be mindful of the fact that, their right to demonstrate does not in any way lead to the destruction of public property. In fact, article 41(d) provides that every citizen has the duty to respect the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of others, and generally to refrain from doing acts detrimental to the welfare of other persons.
Article 41(f) talks about the fact that every citizen has the duty to protect and preserve public property. In fact, article 41(i) of the Constitution further provides that, every citizen has the duty to co-operate with lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order. The effect of article 41(d)(f)(i) is that, every citizen has the duty to preserve and protect public property and therefore, demonstrations should not in any way lead to destruction of life and property. Let’s all work hard to protect the integrity of our enviable democracy.
Economic consequences of growing insecurity
- Disruption of productive economic activities: Insecurity comes with fear and panic among citizens. As the fear of insecurity increases, movement of goods and people may decrease. This has the propensity of curtailing full scale economic activity in that particular area. The subsequent fall in production and provision of goods and services may bring about unemployment, loss of income, fall in profitability and the eventual decrease in the real GDP growth of the country.
As GDP falls, the government’s ability to provide certain critical essential services will be short chained thereby leading to low standard of living. The government may even be compelled to resort to external borrowing; a phenomenon which is associated with harsh conditionalities and high interest payment.
- Reduction in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): Frequent news about insecurity in a country may affect flow of FDIs into the economy. This is due to the fact that, investors may prefer to go to a place where their hard earn investment will be save. In fact, the reality on the ground may not be that bizarre, however, for the fact that a repeated reportage on the issue is carried out, it could negatively affect investment opportunities into the country. In fact, the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), in recent years been promoting FDI investment drive into the Ghanaian economy; that effort could be thwarted by any act of insecurity.
- Fall in agricultural productivity: The growing insecurity in Ejura, if not contained could escalate to other areas. If that happens, the productive youth who are supposed to go to the farm and cultivate food for the country may use that energy on the street to demonstrate their displeasure. Food shortages will compel the government to import food from other economies; a phenomenon capable of putting pressure on the local currency, thereby leading to the depreciation of the cedi. It will equally lead to inflation, and as a result, will distort the macroeconomic fundamentals of the economy.
- Cost of maintaining peace and security: The cost of maintaining internal peace will increase, thereby putting pressure on government budget. The extra money that will be spent in ensuring peace and order could have been used to provide other equally important essential infrastructure facilities such as the provision of schools, portable drinking water, electricity etc. and hence improving the standard of living of the citizens.
It is the considered view of the writer that peace and security is very vital in propelling economic growth and development. Citizen’s participation in democratic governance is also key in achieving sustainable development. The citizens must equally respect the rules of engagement. Let’s stive towards inclusive government and foster development in freedom. Administrative bodies and officials must at all times act fairly and reasonable in the discharge of their responsibilities. Let’s all work hard and fix the basic issues confronting us a people; by that, we can collectively make Ghana great and strong.
>>>The writer is a Development Economist and Chartered Financial Analyst. Daniel is the Chief Economist at the Policy Initiative for Economic Development. He also the Director of Research and Analysis, B&FT. He can be reached on email: [email protected] Tel; 0244 476376/ 0201939350