Media Not Under Siege -Says NMC Boss

Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo

The Chairman of the National Media
Commission (NMC), Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo, says he cannot conclude emphatically that
the media are under siege in Ghana as being claimed by opponents of the government.

Mr. Boadu-Ayeboafo, speaking yesterday
in Accra on the topic: “Is the media under siege?” at the 2nd Ghana
Journalists Association (GJA) 70th Anniversary Lecture, said, “I
cannot conclude with certainty or definitiveness that the media are under siege
and that the present circumstance is not conducive to the practice of
journalism in freedom and independence.”

He said “I think that if you say that the
media has come under attack, it is different from suggesting that the media
have been besieged,” adding “indeed, if you are besieged you would have been so
incapacitated that you are unable to defend yourself.”

While admitting that there have been
attacks on the media, he indicated that all of these attacks were unwarranted
in the face of the legal regime that guarantees media
freedom.

“But does that mean that we are
besieged? If we are besieged, we will not be able to tell some of the stories
that we have been telling about the brutalities that have been meted out to us,”
he added.

Mr. Boadu-Ayeboafo, a lawyer, said
incidents of media attacks like the senseless brutality of Latif Iddrisu and
the murder of Ahmed Suale although needless, abominable and condemnable, should
be looked at independently instead of lumping them together and blaming the state
for such reprehensible acts.

“Where such bestiality has formalism
such as the brutality against Latif and the ludicrous demand by the police that
he identifies the perpetrators, it is fair to blame the state because in such
situations what happens to the victim are the things that Bishop Desmond Tutu
describes as victimizing the victim twice,” he explained.

He reiterated that today no journalist
can be detained for hours before it becomes an issue for public discourse.

“This is why no matter the number of
attacks on media personnel, the media cannot be said to be under siege. For it
is through the same media that the matter of these unlawful acts would be
exposed to enable the victims to regain their independence.

“Today, no groups or individuals, no
matter how powerful or influential they are, can emasculate or enmesh the
media,” he stressed.

The NMC boss while applauding the
initiative of the Ministry of Information to develop a manual for the safety of
journalists and media in the country charged media professionals to learn from
the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) when it submits that “a story
is not worth the life of a journalist. Journalists must learn to survive to
avoid injury, jail, expulsion or any of the other perils of our profession and still
get the story.” 

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri



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