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Opinions of Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Columnist: Bediako, Alexander

Free speech, cheap or can be expensive?

Freedom of speech is said to be political freedom or right to express one’s thought or opinion. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right and International Human Right Law recognise this right. The Article also said that the exercise of these rights carries "special duties and responsibilities" and may "therefore be subject to certain restrictions" when necessary. And in many countries across the world “this freedom of speech” is not absolute, and I believe Ghana is not exception but that has not been the case for some time now. Each day persons who are expected to know better, hide under the umbrella of “free speech” and political communication and do all manner of harms to the wellbeing of the state.
Years now it appears some happy-go-lucky individuals have taken the leniency of our courts for granted creating a situation where many are now of the view that law and order have fallen below the ladder, but the situation in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 was clear: change course and help in building a responsible society for all or be prepare to face the full rigour of the law of the land! Mr. Ken Kuranchie of the Searchlight Newspaper and Stephen Atubiga have both been jailed for 10 days and 3 days respectively for criminal contempt of the court.
All who mean well for Ghana, irrespective of the political colour you wear, should applaud the Supreme Court for its decision on this day as the impunity, arrogance and the propaganda are becoming unbearable for us as a country. Individuals who think they are bigger than the state must be dealt with appropriately to protect the sanctity and security of the state as the consequences of their utterances would be too much a price to pay. Ghana is not a lawless society and those who seek to make as such must be dealt with according to the laws of the land. Free speech, political communication and propaganda, if you like, must all come with responsibility at all times. Responsible citizenship is a prerequisite for national cohesion and development and we must all measure ourselves to it.
Long live Ghana and long live independent minded citizenry!
By Alexander Bediako.
London