Any individual, body or institution which impedes media personnel from carrying out their legitimate duties will be in breach of the law, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Alhassan, has said.
Speaking at the ‘International Day To End Impunity of Attacks against Journalists’ in Accra yesterday, the IGP called on institutions, bodies, groupings and individuals “to eschew the barbaric acts of attacking media personnel in the course of their duties”.
“It goes without mentioning, that any individual, body or institution which impedes a media personnel from carrying out his or her legitimate duty, to the extent of assaulting or brutalising, compounds one’s criminal liabilities as it could bring about offences like assault, causing harm, damage and even murder, where the victims loses his or her life,” the IGP warned in a speech read on his behalf by the Director-General of Police Public Affairs, DCOP (Rev.) Daniel Nenyi Ampa-Bennin.
He said it was about time everyone appreciated the importance of the media, their essence in the country, and accorded them their right.
“The fact that the journalist witness an unpalatable story about you or your institution, does not make him or her a criminal, in fact, the Criminal Libel Law does not exist in our books anymore.
“If anyone feels aggrieved by any piece of journalistic work, or any attitude of any media person, let the person resort to the law to seek redress. You do not take the law into your hand and exert the punishment you desire. If we allow that, we will be living in the jungle,” the IGP stated.
Mr. Alhassan said, the Police Administration had taken a serious stance against police brutalities of all manner of people including the media, such that in their Public Confidence Reaffirmation Programme, the subject matter had been given prominence.
He said the expansion of the public affairs activities in the service to all the regions, and the subsequent construction of a separate office accommodation for the department, was an attestation to the Police Administration’s appreciation of the relevance of the media in the state and its preparedness to collaborate with them.
Mr. Alhassan said in the operational orders, special provisions were made to ensure that personnel embarking on operations, handled matters of the media with the outmost civility and professionalism, and when necessary, special protection arrangements were made for them.
He said in recognition of the role the media played in enhancing security in the country, the police in collaboration with the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), was developing a Standard Operational Procedures (SOP) document in dealing with the media.
“Therefore issues of infractions against personnel of the media should be taken serious and investigated, and defaulting officers dealt with accordingly.”
The IGP noted, however, that some media personnel by their actions, attracted uncouth and unfortunate attacks onto themselves.
According to the IGP, they did so by throwing the time-tested ethics of the journalism profession to the dogs.
He advised media personnel not to lose sight of their responsibilities and the code of professional standards governing the journalism profession.
“Far from justifying the unfortunate behaviour “of attacking media personnel, I suppose that if media practitioners and journalists adhere to the ethics of their profession, it will reduce the reprehensible attacks on them,” he said.
The International Day to End Impunity of Attacks Against Journalists was instituted in 2013 following the killing of two French journalists in West Africa.
Present at the ceremony was the president of the GJA, Mr. Affail Monnie, the Chairman of the National Media Commission, Ambassador Kabral Blay-Amihere, representatives of UNESCO and a host of journalists from across the country.