Office for safety of journalists good initiative

The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, on Tuesday announced the establishment of an office in Accra for the co-ordinated mechanism for the safety of journalists in the country.

 He said the office would receive complaints of alleged attacks and intimidation on journalists, validate same, follow up and push for conclusion of investigations and the sanctioning of culprits.

The minister said this at this year’s commemoration of World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) and flag hoisting ceremony in Accra as part of the speech he delivered.

Mr Oppong Nkrumah said the office, set up by the National Media Commission (NMC) with support from the ministry, would also support journalists with the necessary skills on their safety.

The Ghanaian Times first of all wishes to commend the NMC, the Ministry of Information and, for that matter, the government for the establishment of the office.

It gives some credence to the fact that the government cherishes the work of journalists and so need protection to discharge their duties in the hope that they can get justice should they suffer any breach in the line of duty.

It also portrays some backing for the press as the fourth estate of the realm or the fourth pillar of democracy.

The truth is that every country that accepts to be practising democracy needs the press or the media to relay information on policies and other happenings in governance that the citizenry must know.

The press also carry information on societal needs and aspirations to the governing so that the establishment can plan to meet such needs and aspirations.

However, journalists, both reporters and editors, suffer violations and places like the Philippines, China and Iraq, they are mostly denied every iota of justice.

That is why it comes as good news for Ghana to have a special office to deal with breaches or violations journalists would suffer in the country and sanctions meted out to culprits.

The presence of the office itself also serves as a warning to organisations and individuals who would entertain any instincts to harm journalists, especially on the line of duty.

The other role of the office supporting journalists with the necessary skills on their safety is equally important.

Even though the Ghanaian Times does not know the contents of the programme to provide such skills, it would like to suggest that the skills should be thorough in the sense of what safety truly connotes.

While we express our views on this matter, we also respectfully appeal to journalists to be responsible, be very much alive to their roles in society and avoid infringing the rights of others, especially by defaming them, which can prompt them to seek ways to retaliate.

Once again we commend those who initiated the establishment of the complaint office but wish to state that we do not expect a nine days’ wonder. In other words we hope to see an office that works according to law so long as the practice of journalism remains in the country and under any political dispensation.

Then in future, there must be regional offices overseeing the safety of journalists to avoid the situation where every case must be dealt with in Accra with all the inconveniences.

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