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General News of Monday, 1 March 2021

Source: Starr FM

Your letter to the media affront to free speech – NDC to Judicial Service

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has condemned the Judicial Service statement demanding the media to remove from their systems stories that are “inciteful” and “insulting” about judges on the election petition trial or face the consequences.

According to the NDC, the Judicial Council has no right to threaten the media as its statement suggests.

“NEC noted with alarm, the letter written on behalf of the Judicial Service of Ghana through its lawyers, Sory@Law to some media houses which sought to censor their duty to hold public institutions, including the courts, accountable for their actions. We note that the letter from the Judicial Service seeks to limit the right to free speech and press freedom to mere praise-singing of the Judiciary, even in the face of several unjust rulings from the apex Court,” the NDC said in a statement after a meeting of its National Executive Committee Monday.

The statement added: “NEC holds the view that, the Judicial Service has no right or authority to threaten anyone, much less the Media, for performing their constitutionally mandated duties. There are clear procedures laid out in our laws for dealing with specific infractions of media ethics and laws. We find the letter from the Judicial Service an affront to free speech and press freedom which threatens the pillars of democracy that the people of Ghana have nurtured over the years”.

The Judiciary has come under massive criticism following the statement which many described as an attempt to stifle free speech.

“In the light of the foregoing, we have our client’s instructions to demand, and we hereby so do that, as most responsible media institutions now do regarding incendiary and spiteful publications, you immediately. Pull or cause to be pulled down and cleared from your platforms, all statements and speeches which convey and/or insinuate hateful, spiteful, vengeful and incendiary communication against Justices of our client especially those hearing the election petition,” the statement from the Judicial Service said.

It stressed: “Prevent the publication of such statements and speeches on your platforms, and forthwith exercise the highest level of discernment, discretion and responsibility insofar as the publication of statements and speeches regarding the administration of justice are concerned”.

Below are details of the statement by the NDC.

Communique issued at the end of an Emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) Meeting of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) held on Monday, March 1, 2021.

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) held an emergency meeting in Accra today Monday, 1st March, 2021. The meeting discussed a wide range of pressing issues of national interest.

1. The meeting discussed among other things, the ongoing vetting of Ministerial nominees and urged the NDC Parliamentary caucus to be firm and resolute in their duties on the Appointment Committee. It urged them to reject insincere apologies rendered by some of the nominees at the Vetting Committee sittings and hold them responsible for their actions and/or statements which violate the obligations imposed on Public Office Holders by the 1992 Constitution.

2. Also, the NEC meeting noted with concern, the clandestine activities of some security agencies which have embarked on the arbitrary and malicious arrest and detention of citizens for exercising their right to free speech on social media. It urged Ghanaians to rise up against the creeping culture of silence and dictatorship being imposed on the nation.

3. NEC noted with alarm, the letter written on behalf of the Judicial Service of Ghana through its lawyers, Sory@Law to some media houses which sought to censor their duty to hold public institutions, including the courts, accountable for their actions. We note that the letter from the Judicial Service seeks to limit the right to free speech and press freedom to mere praise singing of the Judiciary, even in the face of several unjust rulings from the apex Court. NEC holds the view that, the Judicial Service has no right or authority to threaten anyone, much less the Media, for performing their constitutionally mandated duties. There are clear procedures laid out in our laws for dealing with specific infractions of media ethics and laws. We find the letter from the Judicial Service an affront to free speech and press freedom which threatens the pillars of democracy that the people of Ghana have nurtured over the years. We condemn it in no uncertain terms and call on the Judicial Service to withdraw same without delay, as a sign of respect for the democratic culture of free speech and press freedom.

4. It is the expectation of NEC, that good sense and love for country will prevail and that, the Akufo-Addo government and other institutions of state will henceforth, abort any plans to terrorize the citizens of Ghana in order to suppress dissent and quell demands for probity and accountability as enshrined in the 1992 constitution.

Finally, as Ghanaians await the verdict of the Supreme Court on the election petition, NEC urges all NDC members and supporters to remain calm and resolute. It is the prayer of NEC that the Supreme Court will uphold and promote probity, accountability and transparency, and give effect to the will of the people expressed on 7th December, 2020 in its judgement on the matter. The party will on its part, stop at nothing to rid the Jean Mensah-led Electoral Commission of its partisan biases and prejudices, and ensure transparency and fairness in national elections.

ISSUED IN ACCRA THIS 1ST DAY OF MARCH, 2021

Signed,
Hon. JOHNSON ASIEDU-NKETIAH
GENERAL SECRETARY.

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