Ifj President Younes M'Jahed and Affail Monney
Ifj President Younes M'Jahed and Affail Monney

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), has expressed worry over ‘legal threats’ by the Judiciary Service against the media in reporting hearings of the December 2020 Presidential election petition.

The global Union of Journalists, in a statement, said all too often, allegations of inciteful, hateful or spiteful comment were used to undermine or block fair comment and investigative reporting.

It said arguments about taking a stricter view of what criticism may be allowed of the judicial system in light of the educational levels of the population were false and misleading.

“Editorial decisions about what to publish should rest with editors and journalists in line with the principles of self-regulation and the laws of the land,” IFJ said.

It assured the Ghanaian media of the Federation’s strongest support of its right to ask difficult questions and challenge the decisions and processes of the government, opposition, judiciary and all organs of state and power.

Lawyers of the Judicial Service of Ghana, on Thursday, February 25, 2021, cautioned all media houses in the country to desist from publishing hateful, indecent and offensive statements against judges.

Their concern, they said “arises from the publication and/or permitting the publication of a series of incendiary, hateful and offensive statements, and speeches on their various platforms against the Justices.

“This concern has been heightened by the flurry of statements and speeches directed at our client’s Justices, especially after the commencement of hearing of the election petition in the suit instituted by John Dramani Mahama verses Electoral Commission and Nana Addo,” the statement read.

In the letter addressed to all media houses in the country, the Judicial Service noted that publishing hateful and offensive stories against adjudicators threatened the democracy and peace in the country.

It stated that some of the “publications directly insinuate that the decisions of the Justices presiding over the matter are motivated by factors outside legal principles and proper judicial consideration”.

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The Ghana news Agency (GNA) was established on March 5, 1957, i.e. on the eve of Ghana's independence and charged with the "dissemination of truthful unbiased news". It was the first news agency to be established in Sub-Saharan Africa. GNA was part of a comprehensive communication policy that sought to harness the information arm of the state to build a viable, united and cohesive nation-state. GNA has therefore been operating in the unique role of mobilizing the citizens for nation building, economic and social development, national unity and integration.

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