Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Member of Parliament for North Tongu Constituency has proposed for the establishment of a Special Fund to support journalists who come under attack by way of their medical bills to aid them recover and by way of their legal bills in the pursuit of Justice.
He also called on the National Media Commission and the Ghana Journalists Association to do more in defending the liberties of journalists and ensuring that those who harm journalists found no peace.
Mr Ablakwa who is a Ranking Memberon the Committee on Foreign Affairs said this when he delivered a statement on the floor of Parliament yesterday to mark the United Nation’s Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists which fell on Saturday, November 2, 2019.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted a Resolution at its 68th session in 2013 which proclaimed November 2 as the “International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists”.
The Resolution urged member states to implement definite measures countering present culture of impunity with the date being chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists, Ghislane Dupont and Claude Verlon in Mali on November 2, 2013.
Mr Ablakwa said though Ghana now boasts of a vibrant pluralistic media which was striving to perform its functions of keeping the citizenry informed, ensuring that public officers were accountable and leading causes for societal progress, there were issues to be concerned about the treatment of journalists.
He said it was sad that in Ghana for the first time a journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale was brutally murdered in January this year, adding that it was appropriate to use the commemoration to appeal to investigative authorities to expedite work in identifying the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
Mr Ablakwa said it was also necessary for the authorities to provide regular updates so that it would not appear as though Ahmed’s death has been forgotten.
“Beyond Ahmed’s killings is the litany of physical attacks that too many journalists have had to suffer in recent years,” he said.
He said the Media Foundation for West Africa and the GJA have chronicled at least 17 cases of attacks on journalists in the course of their work in 2018 alone adding that following these were a series of similar attacks meted out to journalists in their line of duty at different times.
Mr Ablakwa said even though these brutal attacks were traumatising and leave permanent scars, “I believe our country can do better in swiftly apprehending culprits and handing severe punishment.”
He said as a country, it was paramount that decisive steps were taken in addressing recurrent attacks against journalist which mostly went unpunished adding that some law enforcement agencies who were tasked with protecting the rights of citizens flout these rules with impunity and if left unattended might not only be spelling doom for journalists but also for all citizens.
“It is important to highlight that impunity against journalists can also come in the form of denying them decent working conditions,” he said.
Mr Ablakwa said when government deliberately boycott media platforms and also deny the media adverts with the view to financially emasculate the press, that behaviour perpetuated impunity against the media.
He said it was high time to highlight the havoc of neglecting unpunished crimes against journalists and its harrowing effects on society at large.
BY LAWRENCE MARKWEI