Ghana is hosting a number of media practitioners, UN representatives, human rights groups and pro-democracy activists as part of activities to mark World Press Freedom Day.
The day, UN initiative, is set aside for journalists across the globe to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, ponder over the state of press freedom in the world and discuss the way forward to ensuring press independence, utilise opportunities in the career for excellence and also pay tribute to journalists who lost their lives on the job.
A variety of events are being held across the globe on Thursday to mark the day.
Ghana is hosting the 2018 World Press Freedom Day (WPFD). The Accra event,x held from May 2-4 will bring together civil society, the academia, media and representatives of the judiciary.
The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is leading Ghanaian Journalists to mark the 25th celebration of the WPFD.
The Director-General of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Madame Irina Bokova, who visited Ghana recently indicated that the decision taken to make Ghana host the 2018 World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) stemmed from the country’s mark in her growing democratic credentials.
The theme of the global event is Keeping Power in Check; Media, Justice and Rule of Law.
On Wednesday, President Nana Akufo-Addo eulogized brave Ghanaian journalists at the World Press Freedom Day Awards Dinner, held at the Kempinski Hotel, Accra.
It was on the theme “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law”.
He made reference to strides made particularly after the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law and said Ghanaians will continue to defend the right to free expression to the very end to help build a free, open society with accountable governance.
He said….”The Ghanaian media has, in fact, enriched the nation’s governance by its curiosity, investigative skills, and persistence,”
He however cautioned practitioners to promote the sanctity of the future of press freedom.
Despite the progress Ghana is making in press freedom, there are grave concerns among the media over attacks on media practitioners in the country.
The concerns have dominated stakeholders’ discussions as the WPFD is marked, especially as journalists continue to be vulnerable to brutal attacks, which are perpetrated with gross impunity.
The latest attack is the near death brutalities an Accra-based Joy FM reporter, Latif Idris, suffered in the hands of police personnel on March 27, 2018.
On December 21,2017, some four journalists covering a demonstration at the headquarters of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Accra were attacked.
The following are other eleven (11) incidents of attacks on Ghanaian journalists in the last 15 months, compiled by the Media Foundation For west Africa (MFWA).
- February 27, 2017 – Kotoko Express Reporter Attacked: A photojournalist of the Asante Kotoko Expressnewspaper, Gideon Botchway was subjected to physical abuse by a fan and a steward of Ashgold football club in Obuasi during a match between Ashgold and Asante Kotoko.
- March 5, 2017– Photo Journalist Attacked, Expelled from Stadium: Officials of Accra Great Olympics attacked a photojournalist, Senyuidzorm Adadevor, at the Accra Sports Stadium during the Accra Great Olympics-WAFA football match.
- March 6, 2017 – Soldiers attack a freelance journalist: Soldiers attacked a freelance journalist, Kendrick Ofei during Ghana’s 60th Independence Day celebration at the Independence Square in Accra.
- June 27, 2017 – Journalist Physically Attacked, Equipment Seized: A journalist, Isaac Nsiah Foster with Otec FM in Kumasi was attacked by workers at a construction site where he had gone to investigate complaints by local residents about the siting of a project meant for a fuel station
- July 2, 2017 – TV3 Crew Attacked: A three-member crew from TV (Myepaul Sowah, Richmond Tanoh and Peter Asare were assaulted by some suspected land guards while investigating encroachment on a piece of public land at Teshie, Accra.
- July 3: Photo journalist Assaulted, Camera Destroyed: Some supporters of Asante Kotoko football club attacked a photojournalist with Hearts News,a bi-weekly published by Accra Hearts of Oak Football Club during a ceremonial match between the two clubs. The hooligans also seized the camera of the victim, Daniel Anane Boakye-Yiadom and destroyed it.
- October 10, 2017- Chief Assaults Journalist over WhatsApp Criticism: The Omanhene of the Wassa Akropong, Tetre Akuamoah Sekyim II,forced Larry Saint, a journalist with Rivers FM, to kneel in the sun for hours for criticizing him on WhatsApp.
- October 18, 2017 – Newspaper Office Attacked by Rampaging Youth: A group of irate youth calling themselves Kumasi Youth Assocaition (KuYA), attacked the regional office of the Daily Guide newspaper, in Kumasi Kumasi, over publications carried by the newspaper on Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
- Dec 2, 2017 – Thugs Storm Radio Justice, Attack Presenter: Thugs stormed the studio of Radio Justice, based in Tamale, and assaulted the presenter of a programme and his three panelists, disrupting the live broadcast in the process. The attackers injured the presenter, Yunus Yiripha, and vandalized the console, microphones, computers and furniture.
- December 21, 2017 – NPP Security Guards Physically Assault Journalists: Four journalists were physically attacked by some security officers manning the NPP party Headquarters in Accra. The four journalists from TV3, Citi FM and Ghanaweb.com were brutalised by the security guards for covering a protest at the premises of the party headquarters
- February 23, 2018 – Police Brutalise Journalist: Christopher Kevin Asima, a presenter of A1 Radio in Bolgatanga, was attacked by police while he was covering a fire outbreak incident.
Sadly, from all the incidents listed above and several others, no perpetrators have been punished. At best, the cases die with mere assurances of investigations by the police, the MFWA’s findings have revealed.
Story by: Henryson Okrah/Ghana/mypowerfmonline.com/97.9MHZ