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Mr Affail Monney, President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has called for an independent investigation into the arrest, detention and alleged torture of the two Modern Ghana Journalists to ascertain the truth.
He said such situations corroded the country’s international image and dimmed the beacon of Ghana’s democracy.
As such, he said, government should work to restore the confidence that the Ghanaian media environment was safe and a reference point for the rest of the world.
Mr Monney said this during an emergency Press Conference held on Wednesday in Accra to react to developments surrounding the arrest of the two journalists namely; Emmanuel Ajafor Abugri and Britwum.
He said after news of their arrest reached him on Friday, June 28, he placed an urgent call to Mr Kan Dapaah, the Minister of National Security, followed by a WhatsApp message to confirm or deny the disturbing news.
The GJA President lauded Mr Dapaah for his support and cooperation in the matter, adding that the Minister called back and explained the circumstances under which the two journalists were arrested and indicated where they were being kept followed by assurances of their release.
He noted that they were extra cautious but highly meticulous in gathering further information on the issue, more so when it bordered on the grave human rights violation of torture.
Mr Monney said they had also been in touch with their local and international partners, notably International Federation of Journalists and the Committee for the Protection of Journalists.
He said GJA had been slow in organising a Press Conference and skittish in hitting National Security because it did not want to exemplify any dichotomy over principle in use and the principle espoused relative to Article 4 of the GJA Code of Ethics which stated that “a journalist makes adequate enquiries and cross checks his or her facts”.
“We also did not want to offend Article 5 of the same Code, which says a ‘journalist makes and verifies the source of every information,’” he added.
The GJA President said that on the grounds of democratic principles, freedom and independence of the media and the tradition of defending the rights of journalists, the association unequivocally condemned the process and procedure adopted to seek justice over the cybercrime allegedly committed by the journalists.
He assured members that the Association would keep to its constitutional mandate to rally to the defence of all journalists in their line of duty and that they would never flinch to do so under any condition.
Mr Monney admonished all journalists to be ethically responsible and security conscious in order not to fall easy prey to the enemies of press freedom.
Mr Kwasi Pratt Jnr, Managing Editor of the Insight News Paper commended the leadership of the GJA for taking a bold step towards the rights of its members, which was a rare situation in recent past.
He further affirmed the Association’s stance for a fair-minded independent body to delve into the issue, adding that the Police could not be entirely trusted to handle the situation appropriately to establish proper facts.
He said the international body was alarmed and that the country’s ratings had fallen with regard to the 2019 World Press Freedom Index.
“It is alarming that people can now sit on live television and threaten to abuse people,” he added.
Mr Pratt expressed worry over divisions along political lines that existed within the inky fraternity and urged members to unite and rally behind the Association’s mandates.
Mr Andrew Edwin Arthur, President of the Private Newspaper Publishers Association Ghana (PRINPAG), said the arrest of the two Journalists was unfortunate and that they would continue to support the decision of its mother group, thus, the GJA.
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