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General News of Friday, 16 August 2019


GJA deeply concerned about rise in attacks on journalists

The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) on the occasion of its 70th Anniversary says it is deeply concerned about the increase in the number of attacks against journalists in recent times.

Mr Affail Monney, the President of the GJA, said the nation's media space was reasonably free; "and to claim that there’s nothing wrong with our environment is to play the ostrich. Safety issues abound".

He said the cycle of impunity and filth of intolerance are to blame for this phenomenon.

"A radical disease, they say, requires a radical surgery. Unless radical steps are taken to deal surgically with the calcifying cancer of impunity such attacks will continue with scandalous frequency," Mr Monney said on Thursday at the Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the GJA in Accra.

He said the attacks on journalists could chill media freedom and blunt Ghana's shining democracy.

"Thankfully, the most conspicuous response to this disturbing issue is in the offing by all media stakeholders. While we await the birth of the proposed Safety Mechanism for Journalists, the law must be made to bite and bite hard at all offenders, regardless of their social status, political connections or spiritual anointing," he said.

The occasion was to zoom in the historic lens and view with utmost appreciation the inestimable sacrifice and magnificent vision of all founding fathers and mothers who established the Africa Press Association, the precursor of the GJA on 15th August, 1949.

Mr Monney said in the struggle for press freedom, the names of certain brutal leaders who kept the media in fetters and enveloped us in silence, continue to elicit bile, long alter they are out of office.

He said the name of former President John Agyekum Kufuor, the Champion of Champions of Press Freedom in Ghana, would eternally ignite pride for repealing the Criminal Libel and Sedition Laws and creating the best environment for media practice in the country.

Mr Monney said current President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo would also occupy a special place in history for giving the nation the Right To Information (RTI) Law, which the media cherished as their greatest platinum anniversary parcel.

He said the RTI law has come at a time when debate was raging on the state of press freedom in Ghana.

"This is our take: to say that Ghana is bereft of press freedom is to ditch the fact," he said.

Mr Monney, who paid tribute to the founding fathers and mothers of the GJA, also said: "We are also deeply grateful to the two prolific media freedom agitators Mr Kweku Baako and Mr Kwesi Pratt Jr as well as Mr Kofi Koomson, Mr Haruna Attah and Mr Ben Ephson who took hair raising risks and endured life threatening punishment for their resolute stand."

"To former Presidents: Mr Edward Oga Ameyibor of blessed memory, who injected rejuvenation into the GJA, Mr Kabral Blay Amihere, who laid the foundation and shaped the national and international profile of the GJA of today and Mrs Gifty Affenyi Dadzie, who broke the glass ceiling and emerged as the first female and the best President GJA has ever produced, we say God bless you indeed."

Mr Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah, Information Minister appealed to journalists to be bold, truthful, professional and decorous in their reportage and at all costs, never propagate or spread fake news.

“Endeavour to pay attention to the ethical considerations that govern your noble profession. The public, who are your major stakeholders are the best judges and they will judge you by your work and output,” he said.

Professor Henry Kwasi Prempeh, the Executive Director of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), who delivered the keynote address at the event, said the media plays a crucial role in deepening representative democracy in every nation.

He said civil society would continue to stand with the GJA to safe guard the hard-won press freedom in the country.