Media Regulators Protest

Affail Monney,GJA President (1)The four regulatorsof the media industry in Ghana have expressed concern about the recent spate of assaults on journalists and media practitioners and called on civil society and progressive forces to join in condemning those attacks.

The group, the National Media Commission (NMC), Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) and the Private Newspaper Publishers’ Association (PRINPAG), in their maiden joint statement, said the assaults on journalists and media practitionershad ‘’ shifted from the traditional source of government to a generalised arena of ordinary folks and petty officialdom.”

Addressing their maiden joint news conference at the Ghana International Press Centre in Accra yesterday to state their abhorrence on the attacks on journalists,  the media regulators “described the assaults on journalists and media professionals as worrying,’’ stressing ‘’it is an affront on  free speech,  rule of law and the current democratic system.’’

Mr Roland Affail Monney, President of the GJA who read the statement on behalf  of the group,  said they decided to come together to issue the statement  in view of the increasing assaults on journalist in line of duty including the assaults  on Daniel Kenu of the Daily Graphic and the Editor of Adom, Afua Pokua.

He said the Media Foundation for West Africa, a media development organisation, this year had chronicled more than ten cases of assaults on journalists by some state agencies and individuals.

“Some of these attacks had come from people who feel aggrieved by the content of some media.  Some are simply by people who did not want their concealed actions and inactions to be brought into the daylight of public scrutiny,’’ he said, adding that “others have come from people who are irritated by freedom of expression and democracy itself.”

Mr Monney said the incessant attacks on journalists were unacceptable and it is an attempt by some state agencies and individuals to cow the media.

“If we allow the torch bearers of public openness to be cowed by physical attacks, there would be nobody to speak in defence of society when the entire community comes under attack.  The attacks on journalists must therefore be seen as an attack on the poor and vulnerable in society whose cause the media champion,’’ he said.

The GJA President said the 1992 Constitution guaranteed freedom and independence for the media to safeguard public safety, respect for human rights and the rule of law to empower and encourage journalists to work and speak for the truth.

“As a result, any attacks on the media constitute an attack on our democracy itself.  This is the reason why our four institutions stand united to use all appropriate measures within the law to fight impunity,” Mr Monney said.

While calling on journalists to be circumspect in the discharge of their duties, The GJA President entreated the police and other security agencies to exercise restraint in dealing with journalists.

TheChairman of the NMC, Mr Kabral Blay Amihere said “an attack on a single is an attack on all journalists,” and called on the media to unite to stop the cruelty meted out to media professionals.

He hinted that the NMC had signed a memorandum of understanding for the police to protect media personnel during public events.

Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, the Managing Director of the Graphic Communications Group, appealed to media owners to provide security for their staff, saying no amount of money could atone for the life of a journalist.

He said the attempt by sections of the media the public to link barbarism against journalists to responsibility was unfair, saying some journalists who had been attacked,at a point in time,  in the course of their duty “ are good journalists,” citing Mr Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh  as an example.

By Kingsley Asare

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