As Ghana girds its loins for the 2020 elections, the Ghana Journalists Association(GJA) says it will not take kindly to politicians attacking journalists.
“The GJA will maintain an obsessive focus on the safety of journalists and demand that politicians in their prowl for votes strictly keep their hands off journalists,” the President of the association, Mr Affail Monney said at the celebration of the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
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With politicians and members of the security services attacking journalists with impunity, the GJA President also urged journalists to sharpen their sense of security in order not to fall victim to assault and other forms of attacks.
According to United Nations data, in the past 12 years, more than 1,000 journalists had been killed for reporting the news and bringing information to the public. In nine out of ten cases, the killers went unpunished.
The world body holds the view that impunity leads to more killings and is often a symptom of worsening conflict and the breakdown of law and order
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed November 2 as the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
Making reference to a speech by United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres , the GJA President said when journalists were targeted, society as a whole paid a price.
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“Without the ability to protect journalists, journalists are hampered in their job. Without journalists’ ability to do their job safely, we face a prospect of a world of confusion and misinformation, he said.
This year alone, there have been at least seven journalists either murdered, threatened with death or assaulted by an officer in the security services with the murder of investigative journalist, Ahmed Hussein Suale, attracting global condemnation.
The attacks took a toll on the country’s ranking on the global media freedom index as the country slumped from first in Africa to third and going down the global spot from 23rd to 27th.
With those figures in mind, Mr Monney said Ghana had witnessed some cases of impunity with their most naked nastiness.
“Impunity is to blame for the frequent attacks against journalists headlined by the assassination of Ahmed Suale, in the most tragic circumstance.
Naturally, atrocities and monstrosities against journalists exert chilling effect on press freedom and freedom of expression but this is not the situation in Ghana,” he said.
The tragic moments notwithstanding, the GJA President said the death of Mr Suale had failed to decapitate the iron-clad resolve of the Ghanaian media to dig and delve or pry and probe issues of corruption, conflict of interest and abuse of office in general.
He saluted some of the country’s shining lights in the investigative journalism space—Anas Aremeyaw Anas, Manasseh Awuni Azure and Edward Adeti for holding aloft, the banner of investigative journalism while also applauding others who were lubricating political discourse and keeping duty bearers accountable.
In July this year, stakeholders in the media space, including the GJA, UNESCO, Media Foundation for West Africa, the Ghana Bar Association, the Ministry of Information, the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association, the National Media Organisation and the security services began a stakeholders’ engagement to establish a national coordinating mechanism on safe and responsible journalism.
Their mandate will include rolling out interventions to ensure the prevention of attacks on journalists, protection of journalists and the prosecution of persons involved in attacks against journalists, among other measures.
Fight for yourself
The Chairman of the NMC, Mr Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, urged journalists to at all times report attacks on them to the commission as it would capture such incidents in its reports to Parliament.
He also urged journalists to fight for their cause before they could be empowered to do so for others.