At the GJA 70th anniversary lecture: Media attacks reprehensible, abominable -NMC chairman

CHAIRMAN of the National Media Commission, Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, has stated that despite what he called “reprehensible and abominable” attacks on journalists in Ghana, the media cannot be said to be under siege.

This is because if the media was under siege, no journalists would have had the space to report on the attacks and expose the unlawful acts committed against journalists in the line of duty.

Speaking at the second of three lectures scheduled by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) to mark its 70th anniversary, the NMC Chairman said media freedom was an inalienable right which must not be trampled upon by any sect of society. 

“Nobody has the right to stop a journalist (from carrying out his or her constitutionally guaranteed duty) no matter how irresponsible the journalist may be,” he stated.

What whoever is unsatisfied with the professionalism of a journalist could do would be to use civil procedures to have their concerns addressed at the appropriate fora like the civil court, he said.

The lecture, delivered in Accra yesterday, on the theme “Is the media under siege” brought together journalists, both retired and active, to deliberate on the dangers practitioners face in the line of duty.

According to him, despite the fact that there have been attacks on journalists over the years, there was the need to pause and look at the phenomenon case-by-case instead of lumping them and blaming the state for such reprehensible acts.

However, “where such bestialities has formalism….it is fair to blame the state” he said adding that “there are also isolated cases where some miscreants take the law into their own hands, such as the beating of the Ghanaian Times photographer (Vincent Dzatse) at the Independent Square.”

Citing the police and the military as one of the groups who visit brutalities on journalists under the guise of maintaining law and order as provided in Articles 200 and 210 of the 1992 Republican Constitution, Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh said “nowhere is it provided that the police and military are to define the limits and independence of the media.”

Unlike in the past where editors were at the beck and call of governments by dropping stories on them requiring that pseudo by lines were given such stories to give it credibility, Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh said same cannot be repeated today.

“Today, no groups or individuals, no matter how powerful or influential they are, can emasculate or enmesh the media,” he posited.

Noting that the media was more responsible than the situation had been in the past, Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh urged individuals who might have suffered brutalities to cooperate with the leadership of the GJA to ensure that offenders were dealt with in accordance with the law.

Describing the murder of Tiger Eye PI investigator, Ahmed Hussein Suale as “senseless” Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh urged President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to “declare his abhorrence to impunity and attacks on media personnel and affirm his unalloyed support for media freedom and independence with the same vigour that he displayed in the appeal of the Criminal Libel and Seditious laws.” 

Journalists, he said, must take precaution whiles attempting to get the story because no story is worth the life of a journalist.

President of the GJA, Rowland Affail Monney, on his part called for an end to attacks on journalists which he said have become a “political gymnastic.”

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI & KIMBERLY FREMPONG

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