Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, Ron Strikker, has lauded the Government of Ghana for professionally managing the Coronavirus pandemic also known as COVID-19.

He was commending the Ghana Police Service (GPS) for strictly following the preventive measures of COVID-19 when it jointly launched a framework on media-police with the media, among other stakeholders.

Strikker described the event planning as impeccable, adding that it was a proof of how excellent Ghana was tackling the corona virus crisis.

“So far, Ghana deserves commendation, I feel safe and healthy and I believe all members of the international community feel same, well done Ghana,” he added.

The Ambassador therefore urged Ghana to keep up with the good work it was doing and not to be complacent because the fight is not over yet.

Commissioner of Police (COP) Nathan Kofi Boakye, Director-General of Research and Planning expressed concern about how to sanction journalists when they erred.

He said in Ghana, it was difficult to define who a journalist was and with the inflow of bloggers, among other online practitioners makes it more solemn, adding that even the mainstream journalists sometimes make statements that their media houses disassociates with which invariably ends up tarnishing people’s hard won reputation.  

Chairman of the Board of Directors, Graphic Communications Group, Professor Kwame Karikari, in a response to a question, said  the police could petition the Ministry of the Interior for Cabinet to come up with laws that would stop some of these things when they became rampant.

He urged the Police to demand from the undisciplined to act rightly, especially with regards to rejoinders to their stories.  

Outlining the media/Police framework, Prof. Karikari said the framework is not to get the police to give preferential treatment to journalists but to understand each other’s roles.

He urged both bodies to take their members through the document, stressing that media houses could use a day to educate their staff on it.

Professor Karikari said the framework would strengthen the bond between the media and Police and help both to give the public credible, transparent and reliable information.

He said in as much as police had the privilege to keep some information from the journalists due to security reasons, the media also cannot be censored or prevented from carrying out their duties if it’s in the public interest.  

He said the Police can stop journalists from taking information if it is really against the public interest.

General Secretary for the Ghana Journalists’ Association, Edmund Kofi Yeboah, said the challenge the framework would face is that the Police as a statutory institution can sanction offending officers but difficult to punish journalists because the various regulatory bodies did not have the power to do so.

He advised that the framework be made part of the training manual for both journalists and Police before they come out of school.

Director of the Police Public Affairs Unit, Superintendent Sheila Abayie-Buckman, said that the framework would curb impunity against journalists and promote their safety.

Initiated by the Media Foundation for West Africa, the framework would guide both the Police and media as they relate to the public.  

President of the Private Newspapers Association, Edwin Arthur, threatened to call for news blackout of the Police service if they refused to pay attention to media safety.

He advised practitioners not to allow the document to gather dust but put it into operation, adding that, police protection of journalists should be decentralized to other parts of Ghana and not only Accra, Kumasi and Tema.  

He said complaints of atrocities against journalists have not been addressed by the Service, citing the gruesome murder of Ahmed Suale.

The framework was sponsored and supported by the Netherlands, Deputy Commissioner of Police David Senanu Eklu, Superintendent Abayie-Buckman and Professor Karikari and other media stakeholders.