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General News Sat, 24 Jul 2021

Government must create safe environment for journalists - SEND GHANA

Mr Siapha Kamara, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SEND GHANA, a subsidiary of SEND Foundation of West Africa, has called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to create safe environment for journalists to practice without intimidation.

He said the President must honour his pledge to "defend the right of the media to free expression and promote accountable governance" adding that “if our democracy must advance, freedom and independence of the media must be guaranteed as enshrined in the 1992 constitution”.

Mr Kamara said this in a press release copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) calling for prompt investigation into alleged verbal abuse on Erastus Asare Donkor, a Multimedia Group journalist.

"SEND GHANA has followed media reports with keen interest in the alleged inflammatory comment by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central, Mr Kennedy Agyapong, against a Kumasi-based journalist working for the Multimedia Group."

He said Mr Agyapong who is also the Chair of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Defence and Interior, was alleged to have incited the public against the journalist in a live television programme and called for him to be beaten mercilessly.

The CEO said the MP reportedly said "this boy should be beaten seriously. He is so annoying. We should beat the hell out of him".

He said SEND was of the view that such abusive comments attributed to the MP did not only constitute threats to the life of the journalist, but also had the potency of undermining Ghana's democratic credentials and an affront to press freedom.

Mr Kamara also said SEND GHANA was pleased to learn that the Multimedia Group had filed a formal complaint and petitioned relevant authorities to investigate the issue, while asking for state security and protection for the journalist.

“We extend our support to the media group and join hands with well-meaning Ghanaians, International Organizations, and Civil Society in demanding a prompt resolution to this grave matter from institutions of the state.”

He urged the security agencies and Parliament in particular, to expedite investigations into the alleged conduct of the MP and exact the appropriate sanctions.

The CEO said it was worthy to note that Ghana ranked low on the 2021 World Press Freedom Index compared to previous years, while maintaining its 30th position in 2020.

He said a report by the Reporters Without Borders attributed the country's low ranking to the failure of the state to deal with the growing threats on the lives of journalists.

“We wish to caution that Ghana risks rolling back further if we allow needless and unwarranted attacks on journalists, especially by public officials with impunity in the exercise of their profession.”
Source: GNA
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