Ghana just hosted the celebration of World Press Freedom Day, under the theme “Keeping Power in Check” Media, Justice and Rule of Law, in Accra, and one would have wished that the need to ensure a free, protected press would continue to linger in the minds of well-meaning Ghanaians for a longer time.
But, some people, especially those with close links to political parties, still think the best way to express their disagreements with the media is to attack journalists, either verbally or physically.
Last Friday’s physical attack on Adom FM’s reporter, Ohemaa Sakyiwaa, by a member of the New Patriotic Party, Hajia Fati, must be condemned by every Ghanaian and action initiated against Fati as well.
And for Fati to say Ohemaa Sakyiwaa did not look like a journalist, but an ‘onion seller’, is most insulting and further provoking the sensibilities of decent Ghanaians, especially women.
The Chronicle believes the assault by a woman on a fellow woman practicing a noble profession negates all efforts by individuals and groups fighting for the empowerment of women in our society.
To even think of preparations for Mothers’ Day, which is to honour womanhood next week, then Hajia Fati’s conduct has, indeed, taken the shine out of the nobility of women.
We, at The Chronicle, believe that Ghana must stand up against the rising attacks on journalists, especially at a time we are deepening our democracy.
The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), we hear, is considering legal action against Hajia Fati, who has confirmed slapping the journalist who was on duty.
The President of the Association, Affail Monney, has said all other cases of assault of journalists will be followed closely to ensure justice is served.
But we must go beyond mere talk and take serious action on perpetrators of attacks on journalists.
We would like to stress that Ghana must create or reinforce an enabling legal policy framework to ensure respect for freedom of expression, foster a diverse, independent media sector, and to ensure that the relevant officials are properly trained so as to ensure respect for that framework in practice.
Ghana cannot continue to hold the mantle as the beacon of Africa when our journalists who are keeping our duty-bearers in check continue to suffer unprovoked attacks on a frequent basis.
When Christiane Amanpour of the CNN warns journalists about their own safety and the viability of the free press in their own country, she evokes a notable escalation in attacks on the media across the globe, including Ghana, long considered by some a bastion of press freedom in Africa.
It is an established fact that efforts to suppress the free press are becoming more complex – and arguably, more pervasive – than ever before. And the time act is now!
‘Attacks on the Press’ is a comprehensive guide to the state of press freedom around the globe, and within its pages, journalists and media observers examine these new abuses, expose nations that violate press freedom with impunity, and provide potential solutions – including guidance on possible work-around on how to ensure the safety of journalists and their sources, and how to fight against the powers that seek to silence criticism and call into question the media’s credibility.
The Chronicle would like to drum home to politicians and their supporters that when they attack the press, they attack the very foundation of the democracy for which they are seen as key players.
In fact, if Ghana would maintain a clean a clean sheet among its peers, then we must, as a people, protect and respect our journalists who mirror the society and ensure proper usage of our resources through their reportage.
Once again, the attacks on journalist must stop NOW!