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General News of Friday, 28 February 2020

Source: ghanaiantimes.com.gh

GJA fumes at Parliament over Speaker’s ruling on media coverage


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The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has said that it would not countenance any action that attempts to take away the media’s right to inform the people and the people’s right to know.

Consequently, the association has warned that it would not hesitate to take every action, including legal recourse, to vindicate and reaffirm the freedoms and independence of the media.

In a statement signed by the President of the GJA, Mr. Roland Affail Monney, and issued in Accra yesterday, the GJA said it noted with regret comments attributed to the leadership of Parliament threatening to revoke accreditation of the Parliamentary Press Corps if they ignore proceedings in the House to cover other events organised by individual members of Parliament.

“We recognise and respect Parliament’s powers to regulate coverage of proceedings of the House for purposes of security, order, and space. The GJA however, wishes to state that journalists cannot be denied accreditation for “arbitrary or content-based criteria,” the GJA said.

It continued “The Speaker of Parliament is on record to have said “You are here as guests by my permission because of the importance this House attaches to your profession. Any such deviation would make you an unwelcome guest and your welcome would be duly withdrawn.” This threat was in response to a decision by some members of the Parliamentary Press Corps to cover a news conference by Minority Spokesperson on Mines and Energy, Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah, on the state of Ghana’s power sector while proceedings were ongoing in the chamber.”

The association further stated that it considered the Speaker’s threat unfortunate and an affront to media freedom and free speech, adding that Parliament was the House of the people.

And so, in the public interest, journalists’ access to the House cannot be deemed as a privilege but a necessity to enable them to report to the people what their elected representatives are up to – be it during official proceedings or any other activity in the House that are matters of great public interest.

“It is not for nothing that our forebears dedicated a whole chapter (Chapter 12) in the 1992 Constitution to media freedom. Article 162(4) of the 1992 Constitution was designed to insulate the media from control or interference in the performance of their duty. Article 162(5) further mandates the media to uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government (including the Legislature) to the people of Ghana without fear or favour.”

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