GJA President Affail Monney

The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has dismissed suggestions that the Association does little to protect journalists aside from issuing statements to condemn attacks on media practitioners.

President of the Association, Roland Affail Monney, in an interview with JoyNews explained that the GJA engages in “back channel moves” with respect to the safety of journalists apart from issuing press releases to condemn attacks and threats against journalists.

He referenced an instance where the Association pursued further to get persons who attacked a journalist with Multimedia Group Limited trialed in court.

“When Sakyiwaa of Multimedia was molested by Hajia Fati, Samson you and I remember that with urgent promptitude we organised a press conference and you followed it up in the court and Hajia Fati was fined. Apart from the press releases, we also do a lot of back channel moves,” he told Samson Lardy Ayenini on Newsfile.

Reacting to the recent arrests of journalists in their line of duty, Roland Affail Monney said the GJA has met with the Inspector General of Police who assured that such “Rambo” style arrests will be abandoned.

“He did assure us that the police will abandon that side and then part invitations to offending journalists or alleged offenders through the GJA or their heads. This is the way forward,” he stated.

According to him, the lack of togetherness on the path of media practitioners has also been a challenge to address the issue.

He stressed that there have been instances where journalists have defied the Association’s order to boycott police conferences and events after attacks and molests on journalists.

“For example when Latif Iddrisu of Joy FM was brutalized at the citadel of security at Police headquarters, the GJA held a press conference and declared a boycott on the Police and I say with all sadness that Joy FM defied that boycott and attended the programme called by the Police.

“Another example, two journalists were molested and brutalized in the full glare of the public at the independence square and again as part of our back channel moves held a meeting with the military hierarchy, the Chief of Defence Staff and for the first time the military apologized and even asked the victims to suggest any compensation, their cameras were replaced and they were paid compensation. This has not been put in the public domain,”

He reiterated the Association’s commitment to protect journalists and pledged that the Association “will not flinch from doing the needful to address such attacks.”

However, he urged Ghanaians not to blame the country’s performance in the 2022 press freedom rankings on the ruling government entirely.

According to him, the report put together by the Reporters Without Borders did not suggest anywhere that the government should take all blame.

He argued in an interview on Newsfile that most media managers and institutions are responsible for the current trend in media freedom in the country.

“In fact, the government is prominent on the guilty list because of the actions and inactions by state and non-state actors; for instance, National Security operatives, they work directly under a Minister who is an official of the government; so, they should take the blame.

“But when it comes to the issue of poor remuneration, we have a media space which is knitted by private institutions, and many of them pay their workers straight wages and this is not the doing of the government. It will not be fair to blame the government for this situation,” he contested on Saturday, May 7.

Meanwhile, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has condemned portions of the 2022 World Press Freedom Index which tagged the Akufo-Addo administration as “intolerant of criticism from citizens and the media”.

The party argued that, in contrast, the media under the NPP is the freest ever.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Director of Communications of the party, Yaw Boaben Asamoa noted that the party’s contribution to the growth of the media under the Fourth Republic is rather exceptional.

“The NPP believes Ghana’s media is the freest ever and that its contribution to media growth are unparalleled in the Fourth Republic,” he said.