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Diasporian News Sun, 22 Jan 2012

BNI Must Apologise To Journalist - NPP-Germany

PRESS RELEASE BY NPP GERMANY

The Beurau Of National Investigations (Bni) Must Apologise To Journalist

When news of the alleged assault on Ms Gifty Lawson by operatives of the BNI first broke out, NPP Germany took it upon itself to conduct our own investigations using all the tools and resources at our disposal. After a painstaking and thorough investigations, the facts as established has led us to the inescapable conclusion that Ms Gifty Lawson, a Photo- Journalist working for the Daily Guide Newspaper was assaulted and mishandled by some operatives of the BNI at the premises of an Accra High Court on Thursday January 12, 2012. We want to place on record our disgust and apprehension about the unruly behaviour and the unprofessional conduct exhibited by the BNI operatives. We condemn in the strongest terms such unprovoked and barbaric attack on a female Journalist who was simply performing her duties as demanded by her profession. We must state that such a disorderly conduct has no place in a democratic dispensation and must be condemned by all fair-minded and peace-loving Ghanaians. The constitution of Ghana guarantees the right to receive and impart information without interference and press freedom constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society. Not only do the media have the task of imparting information and ideas the public also has the right to receive such information.

It must be pointed out that the gains made in terms of press freedom under the Kuffour-led administration are gradually being eroded with the advent of the Mills-Mahama administration .Since the NDC government took over the reigns of power in 2009, press freedom has come under constant attack with the BNI as the worst offender. With the appointment of Lt.Col. Dovlo Lartey as the head of the BNI, the organisation has conducted itself with reckless disregard for the rule of law and behaved it was a law unto itself.The shameless attack on the person of Ms Gifty Lawson is not an isolated incident. In fact human rights abuses by the BNI under the Mills-Mahama administration has been systematic as demonstrated by the confestication of private vehicles, lands, passports, the unlawful arrest and detention of several Ghanaians and the shooting of two Ghanaians who subsequently died in 2010.

This blatant disregard for human rights has left many Ghanaians questioning whether our country is being ruled by a military junta or a democratically elected government. More importantly, it brings back bitter memories of the dreaded PNDC era during which Ghanaian women were stripped naked and forced to put their private parts on public display. Ghanaians need to be reminded that the objectionable act perpetrated against Ms Gifty Lawson is not just an attack on press freedom but an attack on all women and the very essence of womanhood in Ghana. We wish to make it clear however, that we believe in building and supporting institutions to enable them perform their statutorily mandated functions. Hence we are not in any way against the BNI as an institution per se . What we and indeed all Ghanaians are against is the ‘Gestapo’ style of leadership being demonstrated by Lt.Col. Dovlo Lartey and the unruly behaviour of some elements within the BNI whose conduct only bring the image of the organization into disrepute. Indeed we are fully aware of the constitutional mandate of the BNI, but it definitely does not include assaulting and stripping our women naked. In view of the distress and the humiliation caused by the irresponsible conduct of the BNI operatives, we, on behalf of all Ghanaian demand that the BNI renders an unconditional apology to Ms Gifty Lawson.

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Secondly, we call on parliament to sermon Lt Col. Dovlo Lartey to come and account for the conduct of those operatives on the said date. We believe that the difference between democracy and other political systems is the expectation that in a democracy power will not be unlimited and those who exercise power (political or otherwise) are expected to be accountable to those who elected them. Such people should not only be subjected to giving an account for their actions but also be liable to sanctions if their behaviour exceeds limits established by law.

Cleary, the conduct of the BNI operatives towards Ms Gifty Lawson went beyond all limits and they must be made to account for their misconduct. Signed.

Kwaku Anane-Gyinde

Director of Communications NPP-Germany

Source: NPP-Germany