Last Updated 10 November 2016

The government of Ghana constitutionally guarantees freedom of expression and generally respects it in practice, but press restriction continues. However there are strong concerns that religiosity is effectively enforced in some schools and numerous cases of social discrimination based on religion or belief.

Severe Discrimination
Systemic Discrimination
Mostly Satisfactory
Free and Equal

Constitution and government

The government constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression and generally respected it in practice. The country has a lively and diverse media presence that includes state and privately owned television and radio stations, multiple independent newspapers and magazines. The Ghanese government, however, have been known to occasionally restrict press freedom through the practice of harassment and detaining journalists reporting on politically sensitive topics.

The constitution and other laws and policies that are in place typically protect religious freedom. However, to receive formal recognition and status as a legal entity by the government, religious groups must register with the office of the registrar general in the justice ministry. Notwithstanding this provision, there is no penalty for failing to register. Most indigenous religious groups in Ghana do not register.

Ghana constitutionally guarantees and generally respects the right to peaceful assembly and association and permits are not required. Non-governmental organizations freely operate and play an imperative role in guaranteeing government accountability and transparency in the country.

Education and children’s rights

In Ghana’s national public education curriculum, religious and moral education is a mandatory requirement. These courses embody perspectives from both Islam and Christianity. There is an Islamic Education Unit within the ministry which is responsible for the coordinating of all secular public education activities for the Islamic communities in the country. However, in January 2014, the Islamic Education Unit accused the Government of attempting to “sabotage the teaching of Arabic and the Islamic studies in Ghana” – showing a burgeoning rift between the secular and islamic schooling in the country and highlighting the influence that the Islamic Education Unit has on the secular portions of the curriculum for the children labelled “Muslim”.

There were also reports that some teachers in public secondary schools discriminated against Muslim pupils by obligating them to attend Christian church services and to partake in Christian prayers as part of their formal education.

Family, community and society

Women in Ghana continue to be subjected to the practice of female genital mutilation, linked to religion, which continues mainly in Muslim areas of northern Ghana.

Many Atheists in Ghana are afraid to openly express their beliefs due to real or imagined threats of intimidation. However, there is an extant group of outspoken atheists, freethinkers and skeptics who form the Humanists Association of Ghana (a IHEU member organization). The group organised a humanist conference in November, 2012, which brought together humanists from around the world to concentrate on issues relevant to the advancement of humanism in the country.


 “I think the thing that bugs me the most about Christianity in Ghana is the common assumption that everyone is Christian, coupled with the added assumption that if you are not Christian (i.e. ‘saved by the blood’), then you are evil, or at best, misguided and so must be rescued from yourself. Once you’ve been in this ‘game’ (of debating creationists and other such religious extremists, not so much to de-convert them as to make sure there IS debate and not just the appearance of a consensus) for a while, you realise that the theists don’t believe atheism exists.

They think we’ve just chosen to worship something else as our god. And if you can convince them that we really don’t worship anything, they assume that therefore we have no morality. It really is most vexing. Since letting go of Christianity years ago, I finally feel free and healthy and sane, and I honestly have never been happier. Anyway, I’m sure my “de-conversion” story is almost cliche by now.”

— Justice

“Eventually, I came to the conclusion that, I couldn’t take the fiction and I had to be honest, at least with myself. I owed me that. At that time, everything I believed unfolded before me. I felt like I was looking over the edge of an abyss. I could not continue believing. Unbearable cognitive dissonance finally pushed me over the edge.

“I couldn’t tell my mum or my sisters. But I saw and still see the pain and hurt in their eyes because I won’t go to church and I don’t do anything religious — Once I made the comment that the doctrine of heaven was for the coward, the poor and the ignorant, and that I couldn’t believe in that! I saw tears in my sister’s eyes.

“And so I came to the stark realization that most of the things that were to affect my life the most, and which I have learnt from the people around me were, to be precise, illogical. They were nonsense!

“I decided to free my mind and live my life. It’s the only one I have. I couldn’t gamble with it. And the air I breathe is oh, so refreshing…”

— Paa Nii

The above Testimonies, from <>, are used with permission.

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