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Rejoinder: Government must interfere in journalists’ work – Report

The attention of the Media Foundation for West Africa has been drawn to news reports quoting us to have advocated “that government must interfere in journalists’ work.”

The report, apparently published first by the GNA and republished by a number of news websites, is supposed  to be based on the presentation made by our Programme Officer for Freedom of Expression, Muheeb Saeed, during the GJA’s event on November 5, 2019, to mark this year’s International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

However, we have noticed a few inaccuracies that we wish to correct.

First of all, as an organisation that works to promote media freedom and freedom of expression in general, we cannot advocate for government interference in the work of the media as reported in the following paragraph:

“The Media Foundation for West Africa 2017 Afro barometer report indicates that more people believe that it is justify for government to interfere in the work of journalists and stop journalists from reporting certain kinds of information.”

The attribution of the Afro Barometre Report to the MFWA is a serious error, given that our organisation does not produce that Report.

Our Programme Officer only cited the portion of the 2018 Afro Barometre Report that said public confidence in the media is waning and that the majority of Ghanaians believe that the government should have the right to prevent the publication of certain kinds of information.

It is on this premise that Muheeb Saeed advised journalists to demonstrate professionalism and prioritise the public interest at all times in order to win back public confidence, since the media will need public support to win the fight against impunity.

Again, while correctly indicating that one incident of arbitrary arrest and retention has been recorded in Ghana in 2019, the reporter proceeded to state in the next paragraph that “100 more have been subjected to arbitrary arrest or detentions without trial in the courts.”

We wish to emphasis that the only incident of arrest and detention of journalists recorded in Ghana this year is the one involving the two journalists from ModernGhana.com. The reference to 100 journalist detainees in Ghana is, therefore, inacurate.

While hoping that this explanation will clear the confusion, we urge the GNA and all online platforms carrying the report to take the appropriate action in the light of this clarification. We further urge journalists to be meticulous in their work to avoid such unfortunate situations.

Source: MFWA

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