Ghana on Friday marked the World Radio Day in Accra under a global theme “Radio and Trust” to highlight and celebrate the role of radio in relaying information that the masses can rely on.
In Ghana, it was celebrated under the auspices of the Ghana Community Radio Network (GCRN) with sponsorship from the UNESCO Ghana country office with particular focus on Radio Ada attack.
Mr Abdourahamane Diallo, UNESCO representative to Ghana said the commemorative day meant to celebrate the enormous contribution of radio to Ghana’s democracy and bemoaned the stealth policy of freedom of expression, saying, “It is a mix that does not augur well for freedom of expression.”
He said the freedom of expression was fundamental human right that everyone must enjoy which ought to be respected, adding that Article 19 of the universal declaration of human rights stipulated the right to freedom of expression.
Mr Diallo said, it meant that, every human had the absolute right to express their view without being harassed or worse scenario, murdered by any person, group of people or any form of authority.
He said, in Ghana, Article 21 of the 1992 constitution was also explicit on the fundamental human rights of the Ghanaian citizenry stating that “all persons shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, which shall include the freedom of the press and other media.”
“It is on this backdrop that UNESCO is calling on citizens, duty bearers, and government to ensure that this provision is applied to its fullest effect,” he said
Mr Diallo said after the attack on the Ada Radio, he wrote formally to National Media Commission (NMC) and the Ministry of Information (MoI) to activate response in the co-ordinating mechanism for the safety of journalists, saying, “I reached out to management of Radio Ada to offer our support and petitioned the appropriate outfits to swiftly probe the matter and ensure that the perpetrators face the consequences of their wicked actions.”
Mr George Sarpong, the Executive Secretary of the National Media Commission (NMC) said Ghana had established an inter-agency Co-ordinated Mechanism for the safety of journalists under the NMC, adding that the framework would bring journalists, security agencies, prosecutors, legal experts, civil society and UNESCO Accra office to co-operate on the prevention of offences and protection journalists.
He said with the support from the MoI, the NMC had established a dedicated secretariat to investigate and pursue sanctions against those who perpetrated offences against journalists, as well as coordinate safety and risk awareness training for journalists and media workers.
“The secretariat has additional responsibility to research and gather information relating to violations of freedom of expression and respond to information needs of stakeholders including NGOs, government, media professional associations and other parties and to publish annual reports detailing the state of journalists’ safety,” he said.
He added that as part of the Coordinated Mechanism, the National Communications Authority had also mainstreamed safety concerns into broadcasters, to demonstrate practical measures to secure the safety of journalists working in their news houses.
BY LAWRENCE MARKWEI AND SAMUEL GYASI ODURO