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HomeEducationGhanaian Media Not happy with Government over criminalization of Free speech

Ghanaian Media Not happy with Government over criminalization of Free speech

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The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) are deeply troubled by the growing use of the prosecutorial and judicial power of the state to criminalize and punish free speech that allegedly falsely injures or damages the reputation of other persons or of an institution of state,”

This came to light at a joint press conference organized in connection with the recent detention for seven days of Noah Nartey Dameh of Radio Ada on false publication charges in connection with a critical Facebook post.

Dameh posted on his Facebook wall that the police had abused one Benjamin Anim, a citizen of Ada and a patient at a hospital, by chaining him to his hospital bed. The post was accompanied by a picture of the chained Anim alongside a picture of businessman Daniel McCorley (McDan) whom the journalist accused of instigating the police action.

The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) President, Albert Kwabena Dwumfour on behalf of the other Associations stated “We find it ironic that a government presided by Nana Akufo-Addo, who is much vaunted as a human rights and press freedom champion, is supervising the surreptitious reintroduction of criminal libel through the use of the above-mentioned criminal laws”.

He averred that, the violations that have been recorded in Ghana over the past year give course for pessimism regarding the country’s performance in the next ranking.

“It is obvious that our press freedom environment is deteriorating and that the abuse of the two controversial laws has contributed massively to the deterioration. It is our view therefore that efforts to bring a positive change should begin with a reconsideration of those laws. We also call on the government to adequately resource the National Media Commission to effectively carry out its mandate of monitoring and regulating media content in a proactive manner. This, we believe, will discourage police involvement in the media regulatory space”.

The Associations Mr. Dwumfour mentioned, recognise that the media and journalists can sometimes be reckless and unprofessional to the extent of publishing false and defamatory stories. Fortunately, the laws of the country provide aggrieved entities with remedies for civil actions against citizens, journalists and media organisations. Therefore, It is regrettable that repressive sections of the Electronic Communications Act and the Criminal and Other Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) are being weaponised to muzzle free speech under the Akufo-Addo regime.

“we commit ourselves to promoting professional standards in the media and urge all journalists and media houses to uphold the highest level of integrity and professionalism. We will not hesitate to call out any journalist or media organization that indulges in flagrant violation of the professional ethics and standards. This is in view of the recognition that press freedom and indeed all other forms of freedoms go with responsibility and the duty to respect public sensibilities, human dignity and public interest”.

He said it is obvious that media press freedom environment is deteriorating and that the abuse of the two controversial laws has contributed massively to the deterioration. “It is our view therefore that efforts to bring a positive change should begin with a reconsideration of those laws. We also call on the government to adequately resource the National Media Commission to effectively carry out its mandate of monitoring and regulating media content in a proactive manner. This, we believe, will discourage police involvement in the media regulatory space”.

 

 

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