Mr Albert Kwabena Deumfour, the President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has reiterated the commitment of the new administration to seek the welfare and safety of all journalists in the country.
Speaking at the launch of a support fund for journalists, on Wednesday, to commemorate this year’s International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, in Accra, Mr Dwumfour said the, “welfare and safety of journalists will remain a top priority for the Dwumfour Administration”.
The objective of the Journalists Support Fund is to offer legal services to journalists whose rights may be violated in the line of duty.
It will also support training on safety and security for members to enhance their security and safety.
Mr Dwumfour said journalists faced many challenges in the course of their work, sometimes resulting in physical, psychological or emotional harm.
He said, over the years, many journalists had suffered attacks and gone through excruciating pain, while the impunity for crimes against journalists continued unabated hence the Journalists Support Fund.
He added that the most worrying was the fact that, the victims of such crimes did not get justice largely because they lacked the financial wherewithal to pursue legal action against their perpetrators, while in other instances, they did not have the means to even seek medical treatment.
“We believe that establishing the fund will go a long way toward assisting journalists who are attacked by covering their medical and legal expenses,” he said.
Ghana, in 2022, fell 30 places in the World Press Freedom Index to 60th place, according to the ranking of 180 countries by the Rapporteur Sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders).
That, the GJA President attributed to a myriad of factors including the murder, assaults, arrest and detention of some journalists in the country as well as poor economic conditions, including low pay.
He urged the Ghana Police Service to remain focused on bringing the killers of Ahmed Suale to book.
“Journalism is not a crime, and the lives of journalists are important to us,” he said.
Justice Yonny Kulendi, Justice of the Supreme Court, delivering a keynote address, highlighted the critical role the media plays in the promotion of democracy, good governance, transparency, probity, accountability and ultimately, the development of every country.
Journalists and media practitioners, he said, made a lot of sacrifices and took unimaginable risks to inform, educate and entertain society in ways that were crucial to the wellbeing and common good of society.
“It is generally in this line of responsibility as the Fourth Estate of the first Realm that our journalists and media men and women face the most risk at the hands of the men and women of power and their agents and beneficiaries who their activities seek to hold accountable to the sovereign, the Ghanaian people and the constitution,” he said.
Justice Kulendi, therefore, commended the National Executive of the GJA for the ‘Journalists Support Fund’ initiative, saying “the idea of using the fund to pursue legal actions for journalists who may fall victim to such unjustifiable violence is very laudable.”
“It is a good and worthy cause that I implore the public to support,” he added.
Professor Samuel Ato Duncan, Founder, Center of Awareness Global Peace Mission, lauded the Journalists Support Fund initiative, which he said fell in line with the Center’s vision of creating a world that was free of violence.
He urged journalists to be circumspect in their reportage to help maintain national and global peace.
Mr Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo, Chairman, National Media Commission, urged journalists who were assaulted to report such incidences to the Commission to enable it to take informed decision.
Mr Abdourahamane Diallo, UNESCO Representative to Ghana, called for an end to impunity for all crimes against journalists.
“We condemn clearly attacks on journalists and perpetuators of this heinous crime,” he stressed.