Violence against journalists or the media is absolutely unacceptable in any proper democratic dispensation.The Human Rights Reporters Ghana (HRRG) is utterly alarmed and devastated by continuous
attacks on journalists and media outlets including the latest alleged assault and battery by state security operatives on Caleb Kudah and acts of intimidation on Zoe Abu-Baidoo both of Citi FM/TV.
HRRG, sadly also recounts the murder of Ahmed Hussein-Suale. Journalists in Ghana have experienced various forms of attacks from ordinary citizens, from political party members and supporters but mainly members of district and municipal task forces, from the police, armed forces
and the national security forces.
Journalists face threats in their line of work, they are manhandled, battered, their cameras, recorders are ceased and destroyed, sometimes they are forced to delete videos and images on their devices without a warrant from a court of competent jurisdiction. Investigations by the police into these attacks are mostly stalled, yield no results and perpetrators are not brought to justice.
According to William Blackstone, the liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free
state…every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the
public…but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous, or illegal, he must take the consequence
of his own temerity. It behoves the state, to be tolerant of divergent views and the media to be
professional and responsible in carrying out its duties in a free state such as ours.
In this regard HRRG, sees the developing cases of violence targeted against journalists and media
outlets very worrying. When journalists are violently attacked, it creates a climate of selfcensorship, fear and hypocrisy. Journalists and media houses face intimidations after attacks and
are not bold to speak against the rot in society. They exercise unwarranted control over what they
say, write about or do when covering stories of national interest.
It is an obvious truth that creating acts that undermine media and journalism (the Fourth pillar of government) could lead to the collapse of democracy and society.
Therefore, it is not a coincidence that the freedom and independence of the media are guaranteed by Article 162(1) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
It is the responsibility of the state to guarantee safety and protection of journalists or the media and their outlets in Ghana.
For democracy to thrive, there’s the need for transparency, accountability and participation of an informed citizenry and, the work of the media among other things is to ensure that the above tenets
of democracy are upheld.
HRRG therefore, urgently calls for an independent and transparent investigation into all reported cases of assaults and battery on journalists and media outlets so that those behind such attacks can be brought to book and appropriate sanctions meted out accordingly.
Again, all relevant authorities mandated by law must take all the necessary measures to increaseand secure the protection and security of journalists and the media at large.
Joseph Kobla Wemakor