The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has hinted that it will propose to all political parties which will be contesting the 2012 general elections to include in their manifesto whether to abolish section 208 (1) of the Criminal Code of 1960 (Act 29) or not.
The law sates that “any person who publishes or reproduces any statement, rumour or report which is likely to cause fear and alarm to the public or disturb the public peace, knowing or having reason to believe that the statement, rumour or report is false is guilty of a misdemeanour.”
The recent application of the law by the Police has prompted critiques who say its continued existence in the Criminal Code of 1960 is a dent on the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law.
The Criminal Libel Law was repealed 9 years ago during the tenure of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the Justice Minister and Attorney General in the Kufuor regime.
As the Media Foundation for West Africa prepares to hold a national forum on the 10 years of the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law, Asempa News spoke with the Executive Director of the Foundation, Prof. Kwame Karikari to find out if they intend fighting for the repeal of ‘Law on causing fear and panic’.
Prof Karikari told Asempa News that any political party that wants a true freedom for the press in Ghana should include in its manifesto a desire to review the law on ‘causing fear and panic when it wins power, adding, that is what the foundation wants do lobby for next year.
Prof Karikari also blamed the police for misusing the law on causing fear and panic lately.
He explained that the law is not too bad as it also deals with situations like someone raising false fire alarm; for example at a crowded sports stadium resulting in the injury or death of persons.
He therefore urged the police not to use the law for political purposes.
The police has in recent times used the law to prosecute Nana Darkwa Baafi, an NPP activist for claiming that former President Jerry Rawlings set his own house on fire on 14th February this year. It was also applied in the arrest of a teacher in Kumasi for referring to President John Atta Mills as a Chimpanzee, just as it was applied in the recent attempts to prosecute Joy FM’s Ato Kwamina Dadzie the stations broadcast of a news item alleging death threats against unnamed executives of the Ghana Real Estates Developers Association over STX/Government of Ghana housing deal petition.
Story by Yaa Asantewaa/Asempa News/Ghana