Ghana Alert: Constant harassment by palace officials compel journalists to threaten media blackout

A section of journalists based in Kumasi, in Ghana’s Ashanti Region, is threatening a media blackout following constant attacks and harassment by linguists and sub-chiefs at the seat of the Ashanti King, Manhyia Palace.

The MFWA’s correspondent reported that the journalists announced their decision to boycott an event at the palace after the harassment of a journalist who was covering the 80th anniversary of the Ashanti Confederacy on January 31, 2015.

The journalists stated that they would only rescind their decision if the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II meets with them regarding their concerns.

Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer at the Palace, Kwame Aboagye, apologised to journalists and blamed the harassment on stool attendants who, according to him, did not know the journalists.

This is not the first time journalists in the region have complained of being harassed while working. On December 26, 2014, under the auspices of Manhyia Palace, the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) organised the 1st Asanteman Ball and Awards Night to raise funds to build a music complex in Kumasi in honour of an ace musician Agya Koo Nimo and to also contribute to the Aged Musicians Welfare Fund.

The correspondents’ sources said at the start of the event, an announcement was made that no pictures should be taken of the Otumfuo Osei Tutu II when he is dancing.

In the course of the programme, an invited official from a radio station brought out a tablet to take a picture of a musician performing. An unidentified military man in the security detail of the King walked to the radio station official and confiscated his tablet. Other dignitaries had to intervene before the military man returned the tablet to the radio station official.

At that same event, Frank Mensah “Pozo” (a physically challenged musician) had his iPhone confiscated when he took pictures during the event. Other guests also complained about similar treatment at the hands of the King’s security detail.

“At the end of the programme, all the cameras of the invited pressmen were confiscated and shots and videos of the King dancing deleted before the cameras were returned,” said one source. “When the protocol officers were informed, they only apologised and said it was not part of their briefings to the security detail.”

“Nothing was heard of any redress or avenue for formal complaints,” another source added. “The matter died with the departure of the palace entourage.”

The MFWA is concerned about this development and urges the Public Relations department and other officers in charge at the palace to sensitise palace aides and security details to understand the importance of the media’s work in democracy, development and peace-building.

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