The Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has called on judges to punish person who attack journalists irrespective of their social status and political affiliations.
He said this is urgently required to stem the tide of attacks against journalists in the country.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a training workshop for judges on the need to protect freedom of expression and safety of journalists in Ho on Monday, June 20, Mr Oppong Nkrumah urged members of the Bench to institute punitive actions against persons who abuse media practitioners.
“It will be the strongest message to the next batch of state and non-state actors that it is not acceptable to attack journalists no matter how much you disagree with what they say.”
The Ofoase Ayirebi lawmaker acknowledged that although “the wheels of justice may grind slowly,” it is high time offenders were given deterrent punishments.
The workshop is designed to deepen the capacity of judges in dealing with matters of freedom of expression and safety of journalists.
It would also help them reinforce their expertise towards fighting abuses against journalists by ensuring prosecution and trial of those responsible for such attacks.
The training comprises 25 judges from both the High and Appeal courts.
The UNESCO Country Representative, Abdourahmane Diallo, Representative of the Chief Justice, Prof Dominic Dennis Adjei who is also a Justice of the Court of Appeal as well as other well-known dignitaries were present at the event.
On his part, Mr Diallo said the issue of freedom of expression and the safety of journalists is a very delicate area, which demands the attention of duty bearers, arbitration authorities and the security services.
This, he explained, is because freedom of expression and the safety of journalists are fundamental freedoms that determine how compliant or negligent a country is in relation to its constitutional provisions on these fundamental freedoms.
Prof Justice Adjei underscored the need for a collaboration between stakeholders within the media space to build a more robust ecosystem that ensures that infringements on the safety of journalists are reduced to the barest minimum if not eradicated entirely.
Attacks on journalists
The Information Ministry in addressing the issue of attacks on journalists has set in motion a number of programmes with the objective of supporting the Ghanaian media.
The engagements, since 2019, have led to the development of some key interventions aimed at supporting the media industry confront the key issues it is faced with.
First is the inauguration of the office of the Coordinated Mechanism on the Safety of Journalists (CMSJ) under the National Media Commission (NMC).
Key to the operation of this office is the development of a framework for use by all stakeholders to create a safe and conducive environment for the practice of journalism; prevent violence against journalists; protect journalists in danger and prosecute perpetrators of violence against journalists.
Through its Media Capacity Enhancement Programme (MCEP), the Ministry is also providing training for some 250 journalists on emerging issues in journalism – this forms part of collaborative efforts to support the sector, which has been challenged in recent times.
The Right to Information (RTI) has also been rolled out in full. This included the training and deployment or designation of RTI officers in the almost 600 government offices nationwide.
It also includes the set-up of the RTI Commission, which is aimed at ensuring compliance by public offices to the RTI Act.
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