GJA calls for protection of journalists

Mr Affail Monney delivering his address at the seminar.

Mr Affail Monney delivering his address at the seminar.

Speakers at a maiden security and safety seminar for selected journalists in Accra yesterday underscored the need to strengthen efforts at guaranteeing the safety of journalists across the country.

They contended that the security of practitioners, as the fourth estate of the realm, could not be compromised if the country’s democracy and development was to be preserved.

The call comes on the back of the rise in violent attacks on Ghanaian journalists in the course of discharging their duties, a situation gradually denting the country’s image as a citadel of democracy and press freedom in the West African sub-region.

The murder of undercover journalist, Ahmed Hussein-Suale, in January this year by unknown assailants is the latest of attacks on journalists in the country, sparking global outrage and concern over the safety of professionals.

The President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr Roland Affail Monney addressing the seminar deplored the current dispensation under which journalists worked in the country, saying that their security was under threat.

“Journalists have come under several attacks from all fronts; the police, politicians, civilians among others after hosting the press freedom in May. The height of such attacks on journalists was the brutal killing of Hussein-Suale,” he indicated.

In his view, it was high time practitioners were equipped with crucial safety and security information to minimise the threats facing the media today.

He pledged the association’s determination to “explore options of redress to these challenges to promote press freedom in discharging our watchdog mandate without hindrance to deepen our democracy.”

Seasoned journalist and Managing Editor of the Insight Newspaper, Mr Kwesi Pratt Jnr, urged citizens to stand up for the protection of journalists in the country as they served the good and interest of society.

“By no fault of ours, the nature of the work of journalists exposes us to criminals because we report and expose their criminal activities but that is why Ghanaians must ensure that journalists are protected to safeguard our resources,” he added.

Mr Pratt urged media owners to be proactive in protecting their workers by investing in right equipment and resources to enable journalists discharge their duties effectively.

The Country Director, Amnesty International, Mr Robert Akoto Amoafo, said journalism was an important tool toward advancing democracy and promoting human rights saying “an attack on the media is an attack on democracy”.

He urged the government to show commitment in ensuring that journalists operated in an environment where rule of law was respected and acts of abuses and violence were abhorred.

“This will not be only beneficial to journalists but to government as it works towards positioning itself as a human rights abiding government and a promoter of democracy,” he noted.

Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunication, on his part challenged the GJA to set up complaint desks across the regions where inhumane acts meted out against journalists could be promptly addressed.

By Abigail Annoh

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