Government has commissioned a secretariat to receive and validate complaints of attacks on media practitioners in Ghana and advocate their rights and freedoms.

The Secretariat, known as, the National Coordinated Mechanism on the Safety of Journalists, would be a center for media practitioners to report issues of intimidation and harassment in their line of duty for investigation.

It is located at the former offices of the National Media Commission (NMC) in Accra.

The Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah who cut the tape to officially open the Secretariat, said it formed part of government’s commitment towards ensuring the safety of journalists in the country.

He said discussions on establishing a secretariat to promote media safety started about two years ago, which allowed stakeholders to make meaningful inputs.

Mr Oppong Nkrumah said the office would primarily receive and validate complaints of intimidation and harassment of journalists, as well as advocate media freedoms and rights as enshrined in Chapter 12 of the 1992 Constitution.

“Two years ago, we began this conversation on what we can see today. I must say that this is an additional layer of government’s commitment to a free media,” he said.

“This adds up to the existing layers such as the Right to Information Act, establishment of the Right to Information Commission, and the repeal of the Criminal Libel law to strengthen media practice, as opposed to the claims of media silence in Ghana, which I disagree with,” the Minister said.

Mr Oppong Nkrumah entreated the staff and leadership who would work at the Secretariat to treat complaints with absolute professionalism and dispatch and help deepen collaborations between the media and its stakeholders.

The Executive Secretary of the NMC, Mr George Sarpong said the opening of the office reinforced stakeholders’ commitment to the safety of the media.

According to him, the office would support media practice and freedom, adding: “This will serve as a ‘go-to-complain centre’ on the safety of practitioners.”

Mr Sarpong assured the media that the office would seek their welfare and safety, and deal with matters expeditiously.

However, he advised them to be professional in their practice and not necessarily court troubles for themselves in their line of duty.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Ms Sheila Kessie Abayie-Buckman, the Director of Public Affairs, Ghana Police Service, said the security services would collaborate with the Secretariat to provide safety for journalists in the country.

She said the Police Administration would do its part in ensuring that the media went about their duties safely.

DSP Abayie-Buckman said the country’s media were testaments of the thriving democracy and needed to be empowered to play their role effectively in nation building.

Mrs Linda Asante Agyei, the Vice President, Ghana Journalists Association, advised journalists to report to the secretariat whenever they were attacked and not restrict them to the airwaves.

She said the Centre would help stakeholders to get accurate data on attacks on the media and pursue them for the safety of journalists.