Kufuor Urges Journalists To Be Responsible

Former President John Agyekum Kufuor

FORMER PRESIDENT John Agyekum Kufuor has called on journalists in Ghana to practice their profession with a high sense of responsibility.

Mr. Kufuor made the call on Tuesday, May 28, 2019, in Accra at the launch of the 70th anniversary of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA).

According to him, “media freedom does not mean that members of your profession or media houses can operate in the media landscape without any limitations or rules of engagement.”

The former President who is 10 years older than GJA , complained that some journalists have
“become susceptible to use the airwaves and other media as tools and weapons to mislead, intimidate, defame, castigate, disrespect and even blackmail individuals and authority at times.”

He bemoaned that “consequently, many a reputation of individuals and even security of nations have been ruined unjustly and irreparably.”

Mr. Kufuor underscored that “the challenge here is that because the practitioners of journalism are not enjoined to be licensed or regulated publicly like many of the other professions, they come to wield a lot of influence and power for shaping the minds of the populace without open and commensurate responsibility and accountability.”

“The cost,” the statesman said, “can be untold and has contributed to the subversion of democracy and human rights in many parts of the world.”

No One Is Above The Law

This is why practitioners should be well versed in the regular laws of sedition and defamation, he urged, adding that “further, the establishment of an association such as yours (GJA) is to help curb the excesses of conduct among its members, becomes crucial.”

He warned that “It must never be forgotten that it is the same Rule of Law that defines the state and its organs of government, and conduct of its citizens, that fixes the interrelationships of all the entities, including your association and its practitioners, within the jurisdiction of the state. None, including the media, is above the Rule of Law.”

The former President told journalists that “you should never misconstrue the prevailing favourable media environment as an unfettered freedom for “upsetting the applecart” of governance, so to speak.”

He added that “you should wield your power responsibly and acknowledge the fact that this power has been earned from the increasing trust the people’s representatives in both the Legislature and the Executiveare gaining in you.”
He urged GJA to ensure that no one within the profession takes anything for granted to endanger and subvert the fine balance enacted by the Law.

You must always remember that the abuse of the immense power of the press led to the Rwandan genocide through which almost a million people perished in the East African country in 1994, he said, adding that “this harrowing history on our continent entrenches the responsibilities of your profession.”

According to him, the GJA must monitor its members to ensure that the rights of individuals and government are not unduly violated.Your association should be able to pull up its members who flout your ethics and rules, for necessary discipline.

BY Melvin Tarlue

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