The Ministry of Information has commenced consultations towards the development of Right to Information (RTI) law implementation roadmap.
Deputy Minister of Information, Pius Enam Hadzide, said the consultations was to seek the inputs of stakeholders including journalists on how best the recently passed law could help in liberalising the media space and creating the conducive environment for the practice of journalism.
He was speaking at this year’s celebration of World Press Freedom Day organised by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) in Accra.
It was on the theme “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Election in Times of Disinformation.”
Mr Hadzide reiterated government’s commitment to deepening the frontiers of good journalism as a partner in fighting social ills including corruption and immorality in public service, environmental degradation, illegal mining and promote democracy.
In this regard, he said the government was in the process of implementing a media capacity enhancement programme to boost the capacity of Ghanaian journalists in informing, educating and entertaining the public.
Additionally, a national coordinating mechanism for the safety of journalists would be introduced by July this year to ensure the safety and security of journalists across the country and support effort to counter growing attacks on journalists in the country, the Deputy Minister stated.
On behalf of government, he condemned the murder of Ahmed Suale, an investigate journalist, which occurred earlier this year adding that “not even the allegation of ethical bankruptcy and professional mediocrity can justify an attack of any form on a journalist.”
He urged the police to do all it could to arrest and prosecute those responsible for the gruesome killing of the late Suale.
In the advent of fake news and misinformation which has been aided by technology and various social media platforms, Mr Hadzide urged journalists to avoid sensationalism and remain balanced in their reportage.
“Technology has allowed citizens to be active in sharing information. Unfortunately, such citizen journalism has been used to peddle misinformation. As professional journalists, we must avoid sensationalism at the expense of accuracy. We cannot sacrifice balanced reportage on the altar of expediency and getting ahead of the market,” he added.
President of GJA, Roland Affail Monney, said the event was an opportunity to synergise efforts and sharpen ways to deal with impunity which has occasioned attacks and threats against journalists in the country.
He condemned the threats and robbery against Starr FM reporter in Bolgatanga, Edward Adeti, whose investigative work resulted in the resignation of Minister of State at the Presidency, Rockson Bukari.
To avoid a repetition of another fatal attack on a journalist, he urged the security agencies to provide all the protection needed to protect his life, family and property.
Mr Monney congratulated the reporter for rejecting any form of inducement to squelch the story and advised other journalists to emulate such good works to help in building a corrupt-free country.
The GJA, he said, would introduce ethical training programmes to complement government’s initiatives to build the capacity of journalists to address poor work ethics in sections of the media.
“The GJA is on a mission to repurpose journalism. We want to mobilise ourselves to fight filth and other social menace,” he added.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) David Eklu, Director General of Public Affairs Department, Ghana Police Service, urged journalists who are assaulted to report to the police for prosecution and reject out-of-court settlement.
He said any violation against journalists was also against the country’s democracy, which the police and other security agencies exist to protect and defend.
Within the next two months, ACP Eklu stated that, the police administration would outdoor a framework to guide relations between the police and media relating to public order and activities of the media.
Roberto Quiroz II, Public Affairs Officer, United States Embassy in Ghana, said the USA values freedom of the press as a key component of democratic governance stating that the country was committed to empowering Ghanaian journalists through various capacity building programmes to help in realising Ghana’s development agenda.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS