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Executive Director of Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Sulemana Braimah, has observed that gravity and level of intolerance in Ghana with respect to media freedom is becoming a culture by itself.
The phenomenon, he said, is more worrying especially because the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has failed to make a statement to condemn what is happening and give assurance of corrective measures government is taking.
According to him, government would be blamed for the situation because it has responsibility to create an enabling environment in terms of making sure perpetrators of attacks on journalists are punished.
According to him, just two and half years into the Akufo-Addo government, 42 confirmed cases of assaults on journalists have been recorded, almost toppling the record of the Mahama era of 44 between 2012 and 2016.
These facts, he said, are verifiable with available data and the victims could also be reached to tell their own stories.
Mr. Braimah argued government cannot be absolved from what is happening even it is an established fact that government officials were not the ones perpetrating violence against the journalists.
He said, “Government has to provide the enabling environment in terms of making sure perpetrators are punished. The Suale case, what has happened,” he questioned?
He averred that even if the absolute numbers over the last 20 years show improvement in media freedom, gravity of the violations within the period is worse because there was a case of murder of a journalist.
“A journalist was also forced into exile on the basis of severe threats. That person still has a police escort.”
“If people are denying it, why does the journalist has a security escort,” he quizzed?
Government, he noted, does not appear too interested to announce measures it is taking to curb the attacks on journalists, media houses and indeed media freedom.
He said, “It is not happening and when you talk about it these days, what you hear is that we want responsible journalism.”
“Indeed responsible journalism is important but does that give people right to beat up journalists?”
“And what happened by having national security operatives storm a media house, picking up journalists, seizing their equipment, blindfolding and taking them away.”
“A case is filed and they are taking to court. The same government’s legal representation said they were discontinuing with the case. Until now we don’t know what is happening,” he said.
MP for Adenta and Director of Communications of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Yaw Buabeng Asamoah, however argued there is no endgame for an NPP government led by Nana Akufo-Addo to go on a collision course with the media and bringing down the pillars of media freedom they helped to build.
According to him, no government, in the current environment, can and organize an assault on the media.
He said, “An NPP government led by Akufo-Addo, a personal champion of media freedom, cannot have in mind a planned progressive process to dislocate the media from its constitutional rights through violence or otherwise.”
“Indeed it is an amazing contradiction because you also have this same person leading this government signing into law a major piece of legislation that would open up the media space and explode it even further after he led the repeal of the criminal libel law which blew up the media space.”
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