The Africa Center for Human Security and Emergency Management (ACHSEM) has condemned the spate of attacks on the media and Journalists on the continent saying it was an affront to democracy, good governance and the rule of law.
ACHSEM said these in a statement signed by it’s Executive Director, Bill Godson Ocloo on October 11, and copied to the media.
According to the center, the recent attack on Accra based private television channel UTV, when some youth purported to be supporters of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) invaded the channel’s studio disrupting a live show to register their displeasure over the conduct of a panelist and similar attacks on media personnel in Ghana, raises critical concerns about the state of media freedom and democracy in the country and a violation of the 1992 Constitution.
It said the 1992 Constitution of Ghana is the supreme law of the land and enshrines the principles of democracy, rule of law, and freedom of the press, which were important for the consolidation of Ghana’s democratic principles, emphasizing the need to protect and uphold these principles – Any attack on media freedom directly contradicts the spirit and letter of the constitution, and ACHSEM unequivocally condemns such actions.
“The invasion of the studios of UTV and Radio Ada is a clear violation of media freedom and freedom of expression.
It is imperative to highlight that political parties should engage in constructive dialogue and respect the independence of media outlets. ACHSEM strongly condemns such invasions and stresses the importance of parties and individuals adhering to the rule of law,” it said.
The statement added that media personnel in Ghana and for that matter on the continent play a vital role in informing the public and holding power to account – Attacks on them not only endanger their safety but also undermine the free flow of information and democratic values.
“ACHSEM firmly stands against any form of violence or intimidation directed at media personnel and calls for the perpetrators to be held accountable.
In line with the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and its commitment to democracy, ACHSEM’s position on the attack on media freedom in Ghana is one of unwavering support for the principles of media freedom, freedom of expression, and the rule of law. These incidents serve as a reminder of the importance of upholding these democratic values and ensuring that Ghana’s media remains free, independent, and able to fulfill its critical role in society. It is incumbent upon all stakeholders, including political parties, to respect and protect these principles to maintain the integrity of Ghana’s democracy.”
ACHSEM recommended some key actions which it believes must be taken by the government of Ghana and other African governments to forestall these attacks going forward. These include,
• Transparency and Investigation: It is crucial that a transparent and impartial investigation is launched immediately to identify the individuals responsible for this attack. No one should be above the law, and those found guilty must face the consequences of their actions.
• Support for the Media: The media plays a vital role in Ghana’s democracy, and it is incumbent upon all citizens to support responsible journalism. Attacks on the media not only undermine press freedom but also endanger the safety of journalists who are committed to providing accurate and unbiased information.
• Advocating for Accountability: It is the duty of all citizens, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Security analysts other stakeholders to advocate for accountability in all matters related to public safety and the rule of law. These include condemning any form of violence or intimidation against the media and urging political parties to uphold the principles of democracy.
• Collaboration with Civil Society: Collaboration with civil society organizations, human rights groups, and media associations is essential. By working together, we can amplify our message and advocate for media freedom, justice, and the protection of democratic values.
• Promoting Dialogue and Conflict Resolution: Encouraging peaceful dialogue and conflict resolution mechanisms between political parties, media outlets, and other stakeholders is crucial to prevent further tensions and violence. Dialogue can help build a culture of tolerance and respect for diverse opinions.
• Continuous Monitoring: We must continue to monitor the situation closely and ensure that it remains in the public eye until justice is served. Public pressure can be a powerful force for accountability.
• Education and Awareness: Lastly, it is our responsibility to educate the public about the importance of democracy, the rule of law, and the vital role of the media in safeguarding these principles. Together, we can raise awareness about the consequences of attacks on media freedom and the broader implications for our democracy.
“The attack on UTV is not just an isolated incident; it is a challenge to the very essence of Ghana’s democracy. As security analysts, we stand firmly for the values that underpin our society and ensure that those who threaten these values are held accountable.
Ghana’s democracy is strong, and it will only grow stronger through our collective commitment to upholding the rule of law, safeguarding media freedom, and preserving the democratic principles that make our nation great,” the statement concluded.