Deal swiftly with attacks on journalists – Minister

Ho Social Media Safety
Ho Social Media Safety

Punish attacks on journalists with speed – Information Minister tells Judges

Mr Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah, Minister of Information has appealed to the Judiciary to help expedite justice against perpetrators of acts against journalists.

He said media practitioners considered the current pace of judicial action against such perpetrators low and called for swift punishment as the surest shield for the media.

Mr Oppong-Nkrumah was addressing the opening of a UNESCO training programme on press freedom for judges, which was being held in Ho.

He said: “Yes, the wheels of justice may grind slowly, but My Lord CJ, the feedback I have from my media colleagues is that we believe some quick punitive action targeted at the perpetrators of infringements against media practitioners will be appreciated.

“It will be the strongest message to the next batch of state and non-state actors that it is not acceptable to attack journalists no matter how much you disagree with that they say. It will be a message stronger than any admonition any of us can ever give. If we want these acts that are a disgrace, an embarrassment to Ghana’s democracy to stop.

“Please punish these acts with speed regardless of who commits them while upholding the necessary due processes,” he stated.

The Minister said the Government had endeavoured to advance mechanisms towards providing the sought media environment, and which are based off a multi stakeholder platform.

A coordinated mechanism engineered by the National Media Commission and backed by the Executive arm of Government, would help provide a bastion for practitioners, offering training on safety, and a platform to register, monitor and address related issues.

Mr Oppong-Nkrumah said the Government, therefore, considered well supportive of UNESCO’s commitment to the judicial capacity enhancement initiative on the media and expected an enhanced media outlook of the Judiciary.

“This week’s training is a step in the right direction, and I applaud UNESCO, one of our patterns for this. I call on all other stakeholders to do more collectively in supporting the framework success.

“This training should hopefully stimulate some keener response from the offices of prosecutors and the judiciary when infringements are brought to your attention,” he said.

The three-day training is being supported by the Japanese Government and has 25 judges in attendance.

Abdourahamane Diallo, UNESCO Country Representative, said the training, which was in collaboration with the Judicial Training Institute, would help meet the United Nation’s objectives for the media environment.

“By reinforcing the knowledge and capacities of the judiciary, it will contribute to the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity adopted by the UN Chief Executives Board in 2020,” he said.

UNESCO has an MOU has the regional courts including the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and ECOWAS Court of Justice on the subject matter, and has developed resources such as a global toolkit on international legal standards pertaining to press freedom for judicial actors, a guideline for prosecutors on cases of crime against journalists, and an Oxford collaborated open online course on international standards on freedom of expression.

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