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Civil society group OneGhana Movement is demanding a probe into claims by the Deputy Editor of ModernGhana that he was tortured by National Security operatives while in detention.
Mr Emmanuel Ajarfor Abugri claimed he was tasered, kicked, punched and tortured during his almost48-hour detention.
OneGhana Movement, in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Emily Kanyir Nyuur, said: “We condemn in no uncertain terms the torture of these journalists. We also condemn the disturbing trend of threats, intimidation and attacks which do not only leave journalists feeling unprotected and vulnerable, but also feeds into the degenerating global outlook for press freedom in Ghana”.
Apart from Mr Abugri, another journalist with the same news website, Mr Emmanuel Britwum, was also arrested on the same day – both of them in connection with alleged cybercrime activities and hacking.
The arrest followed the publication of two articles that were critical of National Security Minister Albert Kan-Dapaah and a member of parliament of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) Alexander Afenyo-Markin.
OneGhana Movement, however, said the action by the National Security breaches Article 162 (4) of the Constitution which states that: ‘Editors and publishers of newspapers and other institutions of the mass media shall not be subject to control or interference by Government, nor shall they be penalised or harassed for their editorial opinions and views, or the content of their publications’. “It is totally unacceptable that in the 21st Century and in the 17th year of the 4th Republic of Ghana, journalists are captured with black polythene bags over their heads, sent to a location unknown to them and subjected to long hours of torture by electric shock and physical brutality over publications on their platform, in clear contravention of Article 162 of the constitution.”
The group said Mr Kan-Dapaah “should, as a matter of urgency, thoroughly investigate this inhumane canker within his rank and file and bring the perpetrators to justice. Failure to do so should result in him tendering his resignation.”
“Government should then commission an independent investigation into the reports of torture of the ModernGhana journalists, and ensure that investigations are conducted thoroughly, impartially and promptly to serve as a deterrent.”
Meanwhile, the Office of National Security has denied torturing Mr Ajarfor Abugri.
In a statement, the office said: “The Secretariat takes a very serious view of these claims, and wishes to state, in no uncertain terms that these allegations are false. We consider it to be a clear and deliberate attempt by the suspect to discredit the investigations and the case against him. Torture and manhandling of suspects are not part and parcel of the culture and architecture of the secretariat under the administration of President Akufo-Addo”.
“We wish to categorically state that the suspect during questioning, was never manhandled, neither was he subjected to any form of forced physical contact.
“The Secretariat is pleased to note that upon the suspect being handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ghana Police Service, the Police has requested that a medical investigation on the suspect be undertaken immediately.
“We are confident that the results of the medical examination will present the truth in the matter so as to inform the appropriate steps to be taken”, the statement added.
In the meantime, the statement said, “the suspect will be arraigned on Tuesday, 2 July 2019 and the charges preferred against him will be made known”, adding that: “The Secretariat reassures the general public that it will at all times continue to respect the rule of law in all of its operations”.
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