The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia says the government is committed to ensuring the safety of journalists in the country.
Ghana has come under severe criticism in relation to media freedom following countless attacks on journalists in the line of duty.
The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has admitted that the lack of stringent punishment for perpetrators of crimes against journalists, only emboldens others to engage in similar crimes.
Speaking however at the 24th GJA awards, Dr. Bawumia indicated that the government is working with the Association to institute a coordinated mechanism to ensure the safety of journalists as well as a capacity enhancement programme for media personnel.
“The need to have a coordinated mechanism, for the safety of journalists has gained prime importance in the world over as attacks on journalists have been on the rise globally. Additionally, the need to have media function exceptionally in our democracy has birthed the capacity enhancement program. I am informed that your leadership has been working closely with the government through the Ministry of Information in designing these interventions. It is my expectation that these interventions will serve us all very well.”
Meanwhile, President of the GJA, Roland Affail Monney called on all and sundry to help fight against the impunity, which he says is downplaying the work of journalists in Ghana.
“We are part of a stakeholder group to craft a framework and mechanism to address the issue of incessant attacks on journalists. On the thread that runs through the attack is impunity. If impunity is not addressed, it grants more impunity. It re-energies a self-propelling cycle and makes it difficult for it to be uprooted. We appeal to all stakeholders to help us fight ferociously the cancer of impunity before it spreads beyond control.”
Gov’t developing protective mechanisms for journalists – Hadzide
Government is organising a stakeholder engagement aimed at curbing the increasing spate of abuses and violence against journalists in Ghana.
He disclosed that Government is working to implement a plan of action on the safety of journalists in the country adding that the Government in partnership with UNESCO will organise a stakeholder engagement on the proposed national coordinating mechanism on safe and responsible journalism in Ghana.
“Government, taking serious view of reported incidents of attacks and brutalities on journalists in Ghana, has been working to implement a plan of action on the safety of journalists and against impunity in line with its mandate to advocate and ensure a comprehensive approach in media development and the creation of a conducive environment for the practice of safe and responsible journalism in Ghana.“In partnership with UNESCO, Government is organizing a stakeholders engagement on the proposed national coordinating mechanism on safe and responsible journalism in Ghana.”
Ghana taking measures to stop attacks on journalists – Oppong Nkrumah
The Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said Ghana is taking measures to stop the incidents of abuse and attacks on journalists.
According to him, through the implementation of a Coordinating Mechanism on the Safety of Journalists, media practitioners in the country, as well as other stakeholders, will be equipped to prevent abuse and independently validate future claims of attacks.
He noted that Ghana has and continues to build a robust mechanism for free and responsible media practice through constitutional and legal frameworks.
Ghana’s media ranking on a low
There have been several incidents of physical attack and abuse of journalists in Ghana in the course of their work.
The death of TigerEye PI’s Ahmed Suale in January 2019 following the team’s production of the football corruption documentary sparked global outrage, leaving a blot on Ghana’s reputation as a safe space for journalists.
An index on World Press Freedom by Reporters Without Borders, saw Ghana losing its spot as one of the best-ranked countries for press freedom.
The county dropped from 23 in 2018 to 27 in 2019.
A significant number of the recent assault on journalists have happened at political events.
In October 2018, a Joy FM reporter was assaulted by a member of John Mahama’s security detail whilst covering Mr. Mahama’s campaign to be NDC flagbearer.
Three journalists, including Citi FM’s Marie-Franz Fordjoe, and two others from TV3 and Ghanaweb, were also assaulted by security guards at the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) headquarters when they were covering a demonstration by some angry party members on December 21, 2017.
In this instance, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) was compelled to petition the National Chairman of the NPP to help bring to book party activists who attacked the journalists.