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Set up independent c’ttee to investigate assault of 3 Ghanaian Times journalists

A senior assistant Editor of the Ghanaian Times, Mr Salifu Abdul Rahaman, has cast doubts on the ability of the Ghana Police Service (GPS), to prosecute its own, in a case of assault against him and his two other colleagues.

He has thus sided with calls by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) for an independent committee to investigate and prosecute the errant police officers instead of putting them through administrative service disciplinary procedures.

“I do not have confidence in the Police Service to prosecute itself but we won’t go for any other settlement whatsoever. We will together with my organisation pursue the case to its logical conclusion and ensure justice is served,” he stated.

Mr Rahaman was speaking at a forum to discuss the safety of journalists in the spate of physical attacks and abuses on them ahead of this year’s World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) today.

Though the occasion is on the global theme; “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in times of Disinformation”,  the dialogue organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in partnership with the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) had sought to proffer means of better protecting journalists to further entrench the country’s democracy.

The meeting which had in attendance representatives from the GPS, academia and civil society as well as heads of media organisations and seasoned media personnel, also saw the signing of a communiqué on the safety of journalists at the end of the programme.

The Senior Assistant Editor noted that the recent attacks on journalists particularly by security agencies expected to protect the citizenry, was due to miscommunication on the independent roles of both institutions to foster development.

“It is refreshing to note that the police service is coming out with a guideline to promote the police-media relations and I hope it is not kept on the shelves at the top hierarchy but it gets down to every policemen so we can all collectively contribute our quota to the growth of the country,” he said.

Director General, Public Affairs Directorate of the GPS, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) David Eklu urged journalists assaulted in their line of duty to take practical steps to pursue the case to the letter.

“Make an official complaint to the police when you face assault and make sure it is filed, let them take your statement, take a medical form and ensure you return it and make follow ups on the case. Do not accept backdoor settlements,” he said.

According to him, the drafted framework to guide police-media relations would ensure that protocols on journalism and policing did not conflict as each party would understand the specific duties of the other and harness an efficient work environment.

On the recurrent issue of the police abusing journalists for public filming, ACP Eklu alluded to the fact that it was not criminal for media practitioners to undertake such actions in the line of duty saying “officers know about that but they tell us they unhappy are with such acts which is why the document we are bringing out we hope, will let them understand how the media works and minimise such infractions.”

President of GJA, Roland Affail Monney cautioned journalists against unethical and irresponsible reportage and the tendency to work along political party lines.

“Learn to be ethically responsible and professionally impeccable at all times, internalise and reflect basic guidelines on safety knowing that your safety comes first before the news,” he maintained.

On his part, the board member of MFWA, Prof Kwame Karikari charged the media to “wage a relentless campaign more than on any other issue today on political militias or vigilantism and support every measure that will stop the phenomenon from taking roots in our political and social lives.”

It would be recalled that three reporters of the Ghanaian Times on March 14, 2019 were assaulted by about 10 policemen and a military man after one officer had jumped traffic and broken the bumper, mirror and windscreen of the Nissan saloon car they were travelling on.

It adds to the numerous molestations of journalists and murder of Ahmed Hussein Suale, a member of investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ team threatening Ghana’s press freedom and resulting in a drop four places (from 23 to 27) in the country’s position in the 2019 edition of the World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders.

BY ABIGAIL ANNOH

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