The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) on Thursday appealed to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to personally address brutalities and the threat of deaths on the lives of journalists which was gaining roots in the society.
Government, as well as political parties, should also publicly condemn these threats and censure ‘their own’ whose utterances and actions tend to support violence against media and journalists.
Professor Kwame Karikari, Founder of MFWA made the appeal at a stakeholders’ dialogue on safety of journalists in Accra.
It was jointly organized by the MFWA and the Ghana Journalists’ Association (GJA).
Even though, he admitted that scores of media houses sometimes produce disturbing content, in a democratic society such media misdemeanour whether calculated or otherwise, should not warrant any reaction intended to maim or murder a journalist.
Prof Karikari said there were laws such as the Right to a Rejoinder, which provided remedies for anyone aggrieved of media misconduct to use.
He revealed that MFWA, GJA, Editors’ Forum, among other stakeholders were developing mechanisms to promote good relations between the media and the police in terms of media safety.
Prof Karikari urged the media to continue to reflect on certain ugly developments that may worsen threats to journalists, press freedom, and the citizenry’s civil liberties.
He said in spite of the presence of political vigilantes that target media houses and journalists, “we should be fearless in carrying out our legitimate duties.”
“I propose strongly that the media should wage a relentless campaign, more than on any other issue today, to support every measure that will stop this phenomenon from taking roots in our political and social lives”.
Prof Audrey Gadzekpo, Dean, School of Information and Communication Studies, University of Ghana said the neglect and lack of action by the state had created that impunity in the country.
She suggested that protocols within the newsroom should be able to train journalists who would be going to conflict zones to cover events whilst adhering and observing safety measures.
The Dean said cases of harassments and abuse against female journalists should be addressed, adding that, the online protection for journalists should be worked on.
Prof Gadzekpo said it was time GJA took issues to court and refuse out of court settlements, adding that the judiciary should also help by giving strong signals to the public that it is wrong to attack journalists.
She said Police College should treat a course on media for personnel to better understand why media personnel behave the way they do.
Mr Samson Lardy Anyenini, journalist and legal practitioner advised media practitioners to
preserve evidence, including making reports to the police in case they were assaulted so as to win their cases in court.
ACP David Eklu, Director-General, Public Affairs Directorate, Ghana Police Service advised journalists to identify themselves, especially when covering crowd control events being handled by security agencies to avoid being manhandled.
Ms Dora B. Mawutor, Programme Manager-MFWA said, the dialogue was to create awareness about the need to uphold press freedom as Ghana’s rank on World Freedom mark had reduced from 23th to 27th due to the recent brutalities on personnel.