Media will not be cowed into submission –GJA Prez

The President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr Albert Kwabena Dwumfuor, has indicated that the media would not be intimidated by the evils that the oppressors perpetuate against journalists in the country.

According to him, there is an emerging intimidation tactic, shameful and terrorist attack which is fast degenerating into culture of barbarism against journalists by some group of people and individuals.

The President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Mr. Albert Kwabena Dwumfour (right) and his Eastern Regional compatriot exchanging a warm greeting.

He stated that the evildoers against press freedom are not tired and that they keep coming at journalists and the media houses with more venom, a situation that needed the support of all those who believe in press freedom.

This was contained in a speech read at this year’s World Press Freedom Day 2024 (WPFD), which was held at Koforidua last week Friday.

World Press Freedom Day is a time to reflect on the current state of press freedom here and around the world, to celebrate our achievements, identify challenges and work together to strengthen press freedom and the journalism profession.

Citing the recent petrol bomb attack on Class FM as clear intimidation tactics by the oppressors, Mr Kwabena Dwumfour described the act as shameful and what he considered to be terrorists attack.

He called on the Ghana Police Service to expedite investigations into the matter and prosecute the perpetrators because the failure of the Police to arrest and prosecute them would embolden others to commit similar crimes, thinking that nothing would happen to them.

The GJA President was of the view that such an attack would pose a great danger to the quest for national peace, especially as we prepare for Election 2024, adding that these attacks are meant to intimidate journalists and the media, but that will never happen.

The event, which was on the the theme: Leveragingjournalism for sustainable environment and future,” was the first time in recent memory that the GJA is commemorating WPFD outside Accra.

A group picture of the very important personalities shortly after the ceremony

The GJA boss disclosed that the decision was in line with a commitment made by the National Executive of the GJA to organise such national events outside Accra, in order to make the regional branches vibrant and inspire in all members a strong sense of belonging in the Association, regardless of their geographical location.

Mr Dwumfuor continued that despite the national theme for the occasion, the global theme for WPFD 2024 is: “Press for the Planet: Journalism in the face of the environmental crisis” was very apt, given the extensive damage environmental degradation is doing to the Planet and the recognition of the potency of journalism to deal with the environmental crisis the world is facing now.

To him, the decision of the GJA to choose the national theme for WPFD 2024 meant to lead a strong media campaign for the protection of the environment and the good of the country.

He called on the media to resume the concerted campaign against illegal small-scale mining, popularly known as ‘Galamsey’, a collective action, which yielded positive results in the past.

“But for the retrogression in action by duty bearers, sanity would have prevailed and our land and water bodies would have been healed by now. That notwithstanding, withdrawing from our duty, as we have done now, is more harmful to the nation”, he stressed.

The GJA President mentioned that apart from ‘galamsey’, the GJA “wishes to call on the media to focus on and address other environmental issues such as sanitation and climate change.”

He was of the conviction that our survival as a nation was dependent on the environment, which included plants, forests, water bodies, and other natural resources, and “we must do everything humanly necessary to protect them.”

Press Attache of the US Embassy in Accra, Kevin Brosnahan, addressing the gathering at the WPFD

On his part, the Press Attache at the US Embassy in Ghana, Kevin Brosnahan, expressed grave concern over the country’s decline in the World Press Freedom Index, which he attributed to a variety of factors including high-profile attacks and abuse of journalists.

According to him, over the past year, the country has witnessed multiple invasions of media houses and physical attacks on journalists as well as individuals affiliated with political candidates accused of physical abuse of journalists.

The Press Attache at the US Embassy in Ghana described the Physical attacks, intimidation and threats against journalists as unacceptable.

According to him, many journalists around the world have been killed in the line of duty. That includes Ahmed Suale, who was murdered in Accra in 2019. Five years have passed without justice for Ahmed Suale and his family.  It is far past time for his loved ones to have closure and for those who murdered him to face justice.

To him, the role of a free press and professional journalists is never more important than during an election year, adding that journalists must play the role of analyst, helping voters understand their rights, the issues, their choices, and how to participate.

He cautioned that as Journalists play a critical role in fighting misinformation and disinformation, they must depart from just reporting rumours and exercise a high level of responsibility as professional journalists to fact-check and confirm their stories before publishing.

Kevin Brosnahan was convinced that reporting environmental issues would illuminate public policy issues and help local communities understand the risks, providing pieces of information, which could empower communities to make local decisions to protect their own environment, their land, and their water.

The Press Attache  further reiterated the United States’ support for press freedom, adding that the U.S. Embassy, along with “our partners, have trained more than 400 journalists in Ghana on election reporting, fact-checking and disinformation, environmental reporting and conflict-sensitive reporting this year alone.”

“It requires you to tell the stories of underrepresented communities and minority groups and advocate for their rights, even when these groups are not in public favour.

“It requires you to dive into public policy issues, analyze them, and explain the impacts of policy decisions”, he mentioned.

The event was attended by Daasebre Kwaku Boateng III, Omanhene of New Juaben Traditional Area, Eastern Regional Minister, Seth Kwame Acheampong and Minister of Information-designate, Fatimatu Abubakar.

The rest are Executive Director of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr John Kingsley Akrugu, Vice Chancellor of the University of Environment & Sustainable Development, Prof Eric Nyarko Sampson, Director-General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Prof Amin Alhassan.


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