The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has called for adequate security for the Starr FM reporter in Bolgatanga, whose investigative reporting led to the resignation of a Minister of State.
“We doff our hats for the character erection and moral perfection of the reporter who refused to accept a bribe to squelch the damaging story,” Mr Rowland Affail Monney, the GJA President stated on Friday at a flag-raising ceremony to mark Work Press Freedom Day in Accra.
“While vehemently condemning the threats and robbery perpetrated against the reporter, we urge National Security to move with urgent promptitude to provide all the protection he desperately needs,” he said
“History they say repeats itself with a higher price. Any repetition of the assassination of Ahmed Suale in the most tragic circumstances will inflict a national harm of incalculable proportions. We must not and dare not permit this to happen.”
This year’s World Press Freedom Day is being celebrated on the theme: “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Election in Times of Disinformation”.
Mr Monney said Ghana, which used to be the first in Africa and 23rd in the world press freedom ranking, had been dislodged from the perch on the top spot of Africa’s media league table by Namibia.
Ghana had dropped in the global ranking from 23rd to 27th.
He said impunity was among the factors, which led to Ghana’s decline in the press freedom ranking.
He said the World Press Freedom Day provided an opportunity for journalists to synergize their efforts and sharpen their weapons to deal with the attacks and threats against journalists.
Mr Monney said the GJA welcomed wholeheartedly Government’s planned intervention of safety mechanisms for journalists.
“The timing is perfect and the response, concrete. Without wrestling with doubt, we hope and pray that this intervention will take off as planned. We also embrace government’s capacity building initiative for journalists.,” he said.
He said the point could be articulated that the capacity of journalists was fundamental to their ability to perform satisfactorily.
He said the GJA would complement these initiatives with ethical training programmes to be supported by MTN to help cure the cancerous spread of ethical bankruptcy and professional media mediocrity in sections of the media.
Mr Monney said the GJA was on a mission to repurpose journalism; stating that “to this end, we will mobilize the media to fight filth as we did in respect of galamsey (illegal minning)”.
“We plead for steadfast support from all media owners, editors, reporters, presenters and the public to actual this agenda and others which will be rolled out to mark the 70th anniversary of the GJA this year.”
He said the anniversary was a platinum opportunity for all apostles of freedom and evangelist of democracy to identify themselves or renew their alliance with the media.
He appealed to the Government to consult widely on the process of digital migration so that Ghanaians would benefit fully from the technology, deepen the nation’s democracy and guarantee freedom of expression.
Mr Pius Enam-Hadzide, a Deputy Minister of Information, announced that the Government was in the process of implementing a Media Capacity Enhancement Programme to boost the competencies of media practitioners in the delivery of their mandate.
He said the protection of media practitioners was also to witness a boost with the introduction of a National Coordinating Mechanism on the Safety of Journalists before July.
Mr Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, Chairman, National Media Commission urged the media to ensure that when matters of public interest come up, it was prudent to empanel individuals and personalities who are knowledgeable in the subject matter to ensure objective discourse, and not resorting to cacophony support and loyalty to political parties.
Mr Roberto Quiroz II, Counselor, Public Affairs, United States Embassy said all nations, which call themselves democracies, must consistently promote freedom of the press, and a climate whereby journalists are free to do their work without fear, harassment, or intimidation.