Attacks against the media worsening, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah warns

 Attacks against the media worsening, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah warns

 The Minister of Infor­mation, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has admitted that the phenomenon of attacks and intimidation of journalists is gaining notoriety in the country as data available to his outfit suggests that the trend of abuse on journalists was on the ascendency. Despite the measures taken by governments to protect journalists by the UN 2012 Action Plan on Safety of Journalists, which calls for a Multistakeholder Approach involving all actors at the Global and National level that have a common interest in Preventing Violence Against JOURNALISTS, protecting them from criminalization or penalizing perpetrators. Consequently, a Coordinated Mech­anism on the Safety of Journalists was birthed and an office was established to among other things train key actors to uphold the safety of journalists, investigate and vali­date reports of attacks on journalists and media, hold the security agencies and the judiciary to be accountable, and publish an annual report on the safety of journalists and efforts to punish attacks on them.

 In a statement on the floor to update it on efforts to improve on the safety of journalists in Accra yesterday, Mr Oppong Nkrumah said the mechanism has not fared any better. Since its establishment, the Coordinated Journalist Safety Mechanism has achieved only a modest degree of success," he said. Under its advocacy function, Mr Oppong Nkrumah, MP for Ofoase/Ayire­bi, said the office, having conducted training sessions in 2019 for journalists in the Northern Region, the ministry has also been engaging the Judicial Service, advocating for severe punishment by the judiciary of persons who attack journalists and media houses. 

  The Minister of Information further stated, among other things, that the Ministry in partnership with UNESCO held a three-day seminar on freedom of expression and journalists' safety for 25 judges from across the globe according to international norms and regional standards at its headquarters in 2022, which we believe was useful. He said that a report from the Office has pointed to excessive and unprofessional handling of Caleb Kudah, who had been mishandled by National Security officers in the past. So the National Security Department has canceled all SWAT teams that were operating within it, reassigning police officers to their mother agencies. The Office has also examined other cases of reported attacks on the media, with findings forwarded to security and prosecution authorities for appropriate action," he said. Under the function of account­ability, the minister said, “the mechanism has not been very successful”.

He said that it could not be overemphasized that the investigations, prosecutions, and judicial departments must be held responsible for incidents notified to them. He said the Ministry of Internal Affairs had to intervene and report directly to the Ghana Police Service in some cases, demanding accountability for the in­vestigation, prosecution, and punishment of offenders. Mr Op­pong Nkrumah stated that Parliament could help to hold agencies responsible for incidents reported by them, in a three-point motion requesting full implementation of the mechanism. In his view, there would be a need for closer collaboration between the stakeholder groups in the Public Communications sector because no one stakeholder group can take on this problem alone.

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