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General News Wed, 3 Jul 2019

GJA condemns alleged assault of journalists by National Security

The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has condemned the practices and processes used by operatives of National Security to allegedly torture two journalists of a news website accused of cyber crimes.

According to the GJA President, Mr Roland Affail Monney the incident has the tendency to erode the international image and weaken the enviable democratic credentials of Ghana.

He said the GJA was shocked to the marrow when the journalists said they were tortured, further advising all journalists to be security conscious and vigilant in order not to fall prey to the enemies of press freedom.

“The GJA is shocked to the marrow to hear the magnitude of the alleged torture of the two journalists. On the grounds of democratic principles, freedom and independence of the media and the tradition of defending the rights of journalists, the GJA unequivocally condemns the processes and procedures adopted in seeking justice over the cyber-crime allegedly committed by the two journalists," Mr Monney said.

“The GJA has a constitutions, ethical, legal, moral and responsibility to rally to the defense of all journalists in their line of duty and we shall not flinch from doing so under any circumstance”.

Background

Media reports indicate that on Thursday, June 27, National Security Operatives raided the offices of ModernGhana and arrested the two of it's journalists; Emmanuel Ajarfor Abugri and Emmanuel Yeboah Britwum and seized some laptop computers.

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Mr Abugri has in subsequent media interviews following his release has alleged that he was tortured in custody while Britwum has stated that he was forced to provide the password to his laptop.

Trumped-up charges

A legal representative of the two journalists, Mr Samson Lardy Anyenini disclosed that the pair were picked-up after two publications on their platform touching on the national security Minister.

"They had called them, to take the story down. After they had taken it down, they followed up and picked them up," he said.

However, after gaining illegal access to the laptop of Mr Britwum's laptop, they found that he had access to the e-mail of Peacefmonline.

He said the Editor in charge at Peacefmonline had confirmed that Britwum was employed by his outfit in the past and his access had not yet been revoked.

He said the pair were released on Saturday but their statements were not taken only for them to be under investigation of cybercrime at the Ministries Police Station.

"...An operation appears to have backfired and now they are hanging onto straw to use to justify the unlawful, criminal and unconstitutional conduct. There may be questions of ethics as regards the journalist and the editor who employed him but there clearly is no criminal offence in this matter...

"They can't find a charge because there is none. There probably will be a trumped-up one but it will be decimated in court because the court will not entertain the prosecution of its services".

Independent investigation

Addressing the briefing, the Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr called for an independent probe, questioning the capacity of the police to investigate the matter given that they had themselves been involved in similar instances in the past which came to nought.

He said: "The only way out of this situation is that you need to have a fair-minded independent body to establish the full facts. The police cannot be trusted to establish the full facts given their conduct especially with regards to the abuse of journalists.

"Some journalists have been abused by the police and it took a whole lot of struggle to get the police to act. In some instances more than a year or so".

He also commended the leadership of the GJA and all journalists for presenting a united front devoid of party lines in the condemnation of the alleged assault.

Source: Graphic.com.gh