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Growing intolerance of dissenting views on social media worrying – H. Kwasi Prempeh

Executive Director for the Center for Democratic Development (CDD) Ghana is worried about the heightening sense of intolerance towards dissenting views on social media.

Prof Henry Kwasi Prempeh decried the extent that political activists go to downplay genuine concerns from a cross-section of the general public. 

Speaking on media freedom in the country on the last edition of Newsfile for 2019 on Saturday, he said the action is discouraging as it seeks to shut people up.

“When you hear surrogates of one party or the other, paid or unpaid propagandists, communicators or whatever… when you hear them make light of a journalist’s experience [it is disturbing]. So a journalist posts something about an experience and then there is this quick reaction trivialising their experience.

He added, “It is a very funny situation where we have a very perverse sense of patriotism where once a particular party is in power that you think is your party, then whatever happens in Ghana even it is not something to be owned by the government, certain partisans and surrogates of government feel they must jump in and own it and therefore trivialise any other voice contrary to theirs.” 

Some journalists, pressure groups, members of policy think tanks among others have, in recent times come under attack for various opinions shared on social media over sensitive developments in the country.

The controversy over the killing of investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale in Accra in January this year also left some political activists on each other’s throats over the potential link of his assassination because of his work.

Commenting on the development, Prof Henry Prempeh said, “He [Ahmed Hussein-Suale] may not have been killed because he was a journalist or because he was plying his trade as a journalist, we don’t even know.

“Yet quickly, certain identifiable surrogates of the party step in and say ‘why do you think of killed because of his profession as a journalist.”

Prof H. Kwasi Prempeh found it regrettable that a section of the public would allow such a thing to fester when the development negatively contributes to Ghana’s poor performance on press freedom rankings worldwide.

He cited nonchalance on the part of political leaders for fuelling the phenomenon.

“Whether or not the government is actively pushing it, I think for me it is the indifference. A journalist is killed. One of the ways that you can show that this is not politically motivated is to be immediately concerned that people will draw inferences and make attributions.

“So one of the things you do to alley all concerns about that is to actually double-up on the effort to find the source. Be seen to be actively pursuing this murder instead of having surrogates, paid or unpaid communicators coming on social media to trivialise it or give other explanations to why it occurred.


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