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General News of Friday, 11 November 2016

Source: citifmonline.com

Journalists sue EC over media payment

A group calling itself the International Standards Journalist Association (ISJA) has sued the Electoral Commission of Ghana over media accreditation fees.

The EC had announced its intention of charging accreditation fees from journalists who would cover the elections.

Though the Commission is yet to determine the fee a statement signed by its Head of Communications, Eric Dzakpasu said “accreditation tags will be given to only those who have formally applied for it and for a fee to be determined by the Commission.”

But the group, in their statement of claim said the Commission’s demand for payment of money as a condition for the issuing of accreditation tag constitutes “unconstitutional discrimination against each journalist on the basis of his status as a Ghanaian journalist.”

The group wondered why the EC had decided to charge accreditation fees when “non- Ghanaian journalists approved by the Commission to cover the election have not been asked by Commission to cover the 2016 election have not been asked to pay money to as a condition of for the issuing of accreditation tags.”

The group further argued that “every citizen who votes is entitled to supervise the Electoral Commission in order to ensure transparency, credibility, legitimacy, legality and correctness of election processes and outcomes.”

“That right cannot be exercised by every citizen because of illiteracy, old age, sickness, the inconvenience of the greatest majority and the sheer volume of numbers as compared to the limited spaces available at the Commission,” it added.

The group had earlier threatened to sue the EC over media accreditation fees.

The President of the group, Dr. Nana Oppong who issued the threat on behalf of the group had argued that the EC has been given huge sums of money from both government and donor partners to conduct the elections hence extorting money from journalists for accreditation is not necessary.

It will be recalled that in September 2015, some journalists in the Ashanti and Western Regions, were asked by the EC to pay an amount of GHc 8 before getting accreditation to cover the exercise.