iWatch Africa has unveiled new measures to counter online abuse and harassment of journalists in Ghana as part of its human rights abuse and corruption project.
Online harassment of journalists in Ghana is a phenomenon that has prompted growing concern in recent years. Journalists who report on contested social and political issues increasingly find themselves the target of abuse through social media, online comment fora and other online means, in some cases including violent threats of death and rape.
iWatch Africa’s initiative will focus on four main strategies including; establishment of a news desk to track online abuse and harassment of journalists, expose and report identified cases to CHRAJ and the police and finally assist government develop relevant online harassment and abuse policies/regulations.
Project Lead for the initiative, Gideon Sarpong explained that, “risks that online harassment poses to the free flow of information and the democratic exchange of ideas demand an urgent response.”
“Thirty one percent of journalists tone down coverage of certain stories after being harassed. We recently witnessed the murder of Ahmed Suale, but prior to that we all saw how he was abused and threatened within the digital ecosystem. A number of journalists in the last couple of months have also been consistently threatened, intimidated and abused. iWatch Africa will use all resources available to us to fight against this phenomenon and defend free flow of information, “ he stated.
The initiative was unveiled at a training workshop for journalists in the middle belt of Ghana last Saturday in Kumasi and it will continue for the foreseeable future.
The human rights abuse and corruption project is supported by US Embassy in Ghana.