Published in 2024

Legal sources

Executive Summary

Ghana has a whistleblower protection law that is considered, on paper, among the strongest in Africa. Passed in 2006, the Whistleblower Act provides legal protection and remedies to all individuals who report crime and misconduct in the public interest. In practice, however, the law has several weaknesses that threaten its effectiveness. The government’s stated willingness to correct these problems has yet to be followed up with action. 

The Whistleblower Act is administered by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). The Commission also serves as Ghana’s Anti-Corruption Agency and Ombudsman.

In parallel with CHRAJ, the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), a group of public, private, and civil society organizations, works on a range of anti-corruption issues including the effectiveness of the whistleblower law. The recently-founded Whistleblower and Journalists Safety International Center (WAJSIC), founded by Ghanaian investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas and PPLAAF, provides protection and support to whistleblowers and journalists exposing corruption across the African continent.

Both CHRAJ and GACC have recommended strengthening the law in line with Ghana’s National Anti-Corruption Action Plan. One crucial problem with the law’s effectiveness lies in a lack of awareness. Particularly in rural areas, citizens have little to no knowledge of the law’s purpose and benefits. Additionally, negative perceptions of whistleblowers as “disloyal” has further hindered the development of a robust whistleblower culture in Ghana. 

In 2020, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) introduced a new whistleblower program with reward incentives of at least GH₵25,000 for individuals who help expose tax defaulters. This is an independent program specific to GRA, unrelated to the Whistleblower Act of 2006. The latter provides for a reward of 10 percent of the recovered money or an amount set by the Attorney General and the Inspector General of Police for whistleblowers whose reports lead to an arrest and conviction. Until September 2023, this reward program had never been activated. However, the Attorney general announced that a law amending the 2006 law to establish this reward program had been passed.

In August of 2022, CHRAJ inaugurated a committee to draft a Standard Operating Procedure for whistleblower protection in Ghana, addressing weaknesses in the country’s current systems for operationalizing whistleblowing and providing for more effective implementation of the Whistleblower Act. 

Tips for Whistleblowers:

  • Ghana’s Whistleblower Act includes legal protections and remedies for anyone who reports crimes, misconduct, or public health dangers.
  • Reports can be made to a wide range of contacts, including employers, Parliament members, the Attorney-General, and ministers.
  • The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) provides legal assistance to victimized whistleblowers and can order those retaliating against whistleblowers to stop.
  • The Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition has developed A Guide to Whistleblowing in Ghana, which contains practical information and advice, and a Training Manual for Civil Society Organisations and Traditional Authorities.

Laws and measures related to whistleblowers

  • Whistleblower Act, 2006

The Whistleblower Act provides legal protections to people who report “impropriety.” While the law is strong on paper, it has not been effectively implemented in practice.

Under the law, “impropriety” includes economic crimes, violation of law, miscarriages of justice, misappropriation of public resources, and dangers to public health or the environment – whether they have occurred or are likely to occur.

Whistleblowers are legally protected from retaliation in the workplace, including dismissal, suspension, denial of promotion, involuntary transfer, and harassment.

In order to qualify for protections, disclosures must be made in good faith and with a reasonable belief that the information is true. Unless it is proven that the whistleblower knowingly disclosed false information, whistleblowers are not liable to civil lawsuits or criminal prosecution.

Information may be reported to a wide range of people, institutions, and organizations, including employers, police, the Attorney-General, members of Parliament, ministers, CHRAJ, the National Media Commission, chiefs, and heads of religious groups. Investigations undertaken regarding impropriety must be completed within 60 days.

The law requires whistleblowers to include their name, address, and occupation, which raises the question of whether officials will investigate anonymous reports. The law includes procedures for illiterate people to make reports.

People who believe they have been or are likely to be victimized for blowing the whistle may file a complaint with the CHRAJ. The Commission can order anyone who is victimizing or harassing a whistleblower to stop. CHRAJ orders have the same effect as a judgment from the High Court. If the person disobeys the order, the Commission can seek a court order compelling the person to comply.

Those in need can obtain legal help by applying to CHRAJ, which will refer the case to the Legal Aid Board or another institution. Victimized whistleblowers can seek compensation in the High Court, and if necessary, may receive police protection.

The law also set up a Whistleblower Reward Fund. Whistleblower whose reports lead to an arrest and conviction can receive 10 percent of the money recovered or an amount set by the Attorney-General and Police Inspector-General. However, as of 2021, this compensation mechanism had never been activated. On September 5, 2023, Attorney General Godfred Dame announced that a law amending the 2006 Whistleblower Act had been passed in August to finally include the long-awaited reward system for whistleblowers.

People who fail to maintain a whistleblower’s confidentiality, or who conceal or suppress evidence in an investigation, face fines and imprisonment.

A CHRAJ committee was inaugurated in 2022 to draft a Standard Operating Procedure for whistleblower protection, addressing the challenges and weaknesses in the current systems for operationalizing whistleblowing and providing for a more efficient and effective implementation of the Whistleblower Act. 

  • Witness Protection Act, 2017

Ghana’s Witness Protection Act establishes a Witness Protection Agency to provide protection to “persons who possess important information and face potential risk or intimidation due to their cooperation with the law enforcement agencies with respect to investigation and prosecution.” However, there is no evidence that the law has been implemented effectively.

In deciding whether to include a witness in the Witness Protection Programme, the Attorney-General must consider: (a) the seriousness of the offense which the relevant evidence or statement relates to, (b) the nature and importance of any relevant evidence or statement, (c) the nature of the perceived danger to the witness, (d) the nature of the relationship of the witness with other witnesses being assessed for inclusion, (e) any psychological or psychiatric evaluation of the witness, (f) whether there are viable alternative methods of protecting the witness, and (g) whether the witness has a criminal record. 

Authorized protective action includes allowing witnesses to establish a new identity, relocating witnesses, providing accommodation for witnesses, providing transport for the property of witnesses, providing reasonable financial assistance to witnesses, and providing counselling and vocational training services to witnesses.

  • Data Protection Act, 2012

Ghana’s Data Protection Act establishes a Data Protection Commission to protect individuals’ privacy and personal data by regulating the processing of personal information. Under Section 18 of the Act, processing of personal data must be done without infringing the privacy rights of the data subject, in a lawful manner, and in a reasonable manner. The Act further requires the consent of the data subject for the processing of personal data unless the purpose for which the data is processed is exempt under Section 20(2). There are also exemptions in place for personal data relating to national security, crime and taxation, and health, education, and social work.

However, a lack of awareness of the Act’s provisions and inadequate infrastructure have prevented the Act from being implemented effectively, leading to issues with enforcement.

  • Electronic Communications Act, 2008

Under the Electronic Communications Act, any network operator or service provider who is a holder of a Class Licence is prohibited from using or disclosing confidential, personal, or proprietary information of users. However, there are exemptions where the use or disclosure is necessary for the operation of the network or service, the billing and collection of charges, the protection of the rights or property of the operator or provider, or protection from the fraudulent use of the network or service. Anyone who intentionally uses or discloses personal information in contravention of the Act may be liable for a fine of up to one thousand five hundred penalty units, a term of imprisonment of up to four years, or both.

The Act has been criticized for its overbroad false information provisions, which do not meet international freedom of expression standards. Furthermore, there is little evidence that the Act’s other provisions have been implemented effectively in practice.

Knowledge, support and action centers

Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ)

This government agency provides legal advice to whistleblowers and has the authority to order retaliation and harassment to stop. Retaliation complaints can be made in person, or by phone or e-mail.

Old Parliament House
High Street
Postal address: Box AC 489, Accra
Tel: (+233) 302 662 150
Fax: (+233) 302- 660 020

Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC)

The GACC is cross-sectoral group of public, private and civil society organizations that promotes good governance and anti-corruption efforts. It promotes anti-corruption and good governance through capacity-building, research and advocacy.

Pig Farm Junction
Near Total Filling Station 
(Main Olusegun Obasanjo Way)
Postal address: P.O. Box GP 17921, Accra
Tel: (+233) 302 230 483
Fax: (+233) 302 230 490

Whistleblowers & Journalists Safety International Center (WAJSIC)

Founded by Ghanaian investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas and PPLAAF, WAJSIC provides protection for whistleblowers and journalists exposing corruption and fighting for accountability across the African continent. WAJSIC provides accommodation, communication, legal, and advocacy services.

Further information

Letter from Ghana’s Permanent Mission of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression

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Legal Notice - Copyright 2024

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Copyright 2022