Over 30,000 dwellers at Agbogbloshie Market- a suburb of Accra, Ghana, referred to as “Sodom and Gomorrah” are faced with a planned forced eviction by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA)-the city authorities responsible for Accra without alternative accommodation/relocation.
The eviction is to pave way for the execution of the Korle Lagoon Ecological Restoration Project (KLERP). The KLERP is a Government of Ghana project being implemented by the Ministry of Works and Housing for AMA and funded jointly by the Government of Ghana, Kuwait Fund for Arab and Economic Development, the Arab Bank for International Development and the OPEC fund for International Development.
The Center for Public Interest Law (CEPIL), conducted a human rights fact-finding 2000 into the KLERP’s potential of violating certain of the fundamental human rights of those to be affected. The report revealed, among others, that, the dredging company had pulled down some structures without compensation, there was no provision or clear -cut policy on relocation/resettlement or compensation for those to be displaced and lastly the project proponents intend using the Law enforcement and security agencies to evict the squatters.
Based on this report CEPIL decided to assist the squatters to remedy the planned forced eviction and to in particular evaluate the planned eviction in relation to Ghana’s obligations and commitments under existing international human rights laws, domestic laws and present human rights guidelines on forced evictions and development -based displacements.
Series of meetings and consultations were held between squatters and the project authorities to fashion out programmes on how to mitigate the effect of the project on those to be affected. These meetings yielded no favourable outcomes for both parties hence, AMA, issued a two – week eviction notice to the squatters.
The eviction notice contained no reference to any plans to resettle or compensate the squatters whose properties or business were likely to be destroyed in the course of the planned eviction. The squatters considered the ultimatum as being too short and contended among others that the planned action by AMA if carried out would violate their rights to (life, property, and dignity, education of their children and privacy of home among others).
Under the circumstances, the squatters instructed CEPIL to initiate Court action against AMA. Subsequently, a suit was filed by CEPIL, for and on behalf of the squatters in an Accra High Court on 31/05/02.Among the reliefs sought by the squatters were an injunction restraining the AMA and for that matter the Government from effecting the eviction and a declaration that their Constitutional rights would be violated if the eviction is allowed to proceed in the manner contemplated by the authorities. The High Court refused their application for interim injunction but the substantive declaratory relief sought by them is still pending before the Court of Appeal.