Open letter to the IGP of Ghana: I’m a journalist, I don’t feel safe

Mr. David Asante-Apeatu –

Dear Mr. Inspector General of Police,

I am a journalist living and working in Accra, and I have been for many years now through some of the difficult times in this country’s political systems. But in 2018, 25 years since Ghana started practicing constitutional democracy, I don’t feel safe anymore doing the work I am mandated to do by the 1992 Constitution because some of your men and women have turned on journalists while they work and are assaulting them.

The police has the primary responsibility of protecting everyone, including suspects in their custody. But it appears there is a systematic police violence being unleashed on journalists, sometimes in public spaces where they have been assigned and accredited to do their work.

Sir, while you may be aware, it does appear that your men and women on the field don’t seem to have any idea that the role of the journalist in our public sphere is enshrined in our constitution, just as the existence of the police is also constitutionally guaranteed.

As a matter of fact, Sir, the relevance and importance of the journalist to Ghana, cannot be overemphasized. The facts are there to show what role journalists have played and continue to play in maintaining national cohesion, peace, order and social development.

It is therefore unacceptable that some members of the Ghana Police Service have been targeting journalists, attacking and violating them while they do their job.

Mr. IGP, please rein in your men and women. Give them some education and encourage them to protect life and property and especially, put a stop to the physical abuse of journalists while they cover events and incidents.

The police service of any progressive society makes extra effort to protect life and property, and we cannot expect anything less from you and your men and women.

The Ghana Police seems to have a long history of intimidating, brutalizing and unjustly arresting Ghanaian journalists.

I recall how in July 2012, one of our reporters, Pascal Kudiabor made an appointment with the CEO of  Emmaland Cardero Resources, a Canadian-Ghanaian Mining Firm based in Ghana to have an interview. The company’s public relations officer agreed, and invited him to the office. While he was at the miner’s office, the CEO called officers of the Ghana Police CID and falsely accused him of being a spy! The police moved there and arrested the journalist! The same police service that doesn’t always have the personnel and vehicles to attend to citizens under attack from armed robbers.

As journalists, by our job description, we are under obligation to ask the difficult questions and to publish what most people don’t want the public to know, making us easy targets, but if the police that should protect us, turns against us, even in public, that creates a dire situation for journalists and increases our risks.

The conduct of your personnel, Sir, makes me feel unsafe to carry on my constitutional obligations to Ghana.

I am writing therefore, to ask you to investigate and if these men and women are found to have violated the journalists, the appropriate sanctions must be applied to deter others, and I am asking you to make a public statement and put an immediate stop to this barbarism against defenceless journalists who are only doing their work.

Accept, Sir, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Emmanuel K. Dogbevi,

A journalist who writes what is likely to make other people uncomfortable.

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