The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has expressed deep concern about the attack on Mr. Victor Kwawukume, Volta Regional Chairman of the Association by the Police in Ho.
The GJA called on the Regional Minister, Mr. Henry Ford Karmel, who is also Chairman of the Regional Security Council , to expedite action on investigations into the matter for those culpable to be brought to book.
A statement signed by President of the GJA, Mr Ransford Tetteh, copied to the Ghana News Agency on Sunday in Accra, Said: “We wish to petition the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Paul Tawiah Quaye, to lend maximum support to the call by the Volta regional branch of the GJA for investigations to be carried out into the assault by the Ho Police on the Regional Chairman of the GJA on Sunday, June 10, 2012.
“We have studied the situational report submitted by the Volta Regional branch of the Association and we are shocked at the impunity and the level of group assault that was carried out by the police against Mr Kwawukume, who is a correspondent of the Daily Graphic newspaper, in his line of duty. This is without prejudice to what would be the outcome of the investigations.”
The statement said the GJA also noted with concern the incidence of the Police inviting editors to disclose their sources of information and referred to two recent incidences.
It said: “The first involved the Editor of the Chronicle and the second involved the Editor of the New Crusading Guide, who was invited to disclose how he “intercepted” the statements made by Mr. Agbesi Woyome to the Police concerning his judgment debts payment.”
The statement said the people’s right to know required the media to as much as possible, truthfully inform and educate members of the public on incidents or issues, whether positive or negative, happening around them.
It said even when journalists erred in their work and their infractions were considered intolerable there could be no justification for one to either physically or verbally attack them or resort to unconstitutional means to seek redress.
The statement said: “There are avenues for seeking redress under the Constitution. They include the right to rejoinder and complaints to the National Media commission. One could also choose to go to the law court.”
It said administratively, one could also make complaints to media organisations such as the GJA, Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association and the Private Newspaper Publishers Association of Ghana.
The statement said the behaviour by the Police both in the case of the assault and inquisitions were definitely in breach of Article 162 (4) of the 1992 Constitution, which states unequivocally that “Editors and publishers of newspapers and other institutions of the mass media shall not be subject to control or interference by Government, nor shall they be penalized or harassed for their editorial opinions and views, or the content of their publications”.
It said journalists were not above the law; but it was the opinion of the GJA that “whenever the police are in doubt or uncomfortable with the operations of media personnel they must resort to provisions in our Constitution.” GNA