ASEPA boss, Mensah Thompson is facing charges of publishing false news about the President

Some key Civil Society Organisations are up in arms over what they believe is a resurrection of some abolished prosecutorial regime in the country.

According to them, the ongoing prosecution of some journalists, activists and pressure group members leaves a sour taste in the mouth of observers.

The CSOs are the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), IMANI Africa and Africa Center for International Law & Accountability (ACILA).

They made this known in a press release dated Saturday, February 12, 2022.

Back in August 2001, the Criminal Code (Repeal of Criminal Libel and Seditious Laws) (Amendment) Act, 2001 (Act 602) was repealed.

This move was expected to free journalists and other persons from suffering the pain of incarceration for exercising free speech and expression.

But the CSOs believe recent events suggest the resurfacing of what seems to be a worrying trend of criminal prosecutions making a mockery of the law abolished some 21 years ago.

Key among the incident is the criminal prosecution of the Executive Director of Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability. (ASEPA), Mensah Thompson.

He is facing charges of publishing false news for making a post on his Facebook page alleging that certain relatives of the President travelled to the UK on the presidential jet for pleasure and shopping.

This, the CSOs see as high-handedness in the discharge of justice by the state.

“We are deeply troubled by the growing use of the prosecutorial and judicial power of the State to punish criminally speech that allegedly falsely injures or damages the reputation of other persons or an institution of the state.”

The group insisted that the constitution provides civil remedies and also presents “parties the prospect of avoiding even civil liability by retracting the offending publication and rendering an appropriate apology to the injured or offended party.”

On the back of this, the group urged that the Attorney-General discontinue the prosecution of the ASEPA boss and also “stop all persons acting under his authority from re-introducing in another guise the long-discredited and abolished criminal libel regime.”

CSOs also urged the media to be circumspect in their reportage to promote sanity in the country.

“We also urge media practitioners and users to tone down the inflammatory rhetoric that has contaminated our public sphere and airwaves, desist from knowingly or recklessly making or publishing false statements, and use, to the extent possible, the Right to Information Act and its processes to access information from public authorities,” the statement added.