Journalists from both the state-owned and private media were prevented by an Accra Circuit Court from covering a case involving Alhaji Said Sinare, a member of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC). According to a reporter of the state-owned Daily Graphic newspaper, the presiding judge, Wilhelmina Hammond instructed all journalists in court to stand and identify themselves. She then allegedly asked the “warrant officer” to take down their names.” According to the Daily Graphic report, the judge claimed that, “it was an offence for the journalists to sit in court and listen to proceedings to write a story without applying to the court registrar for authorization.” She did not cite the specific legal provision which allegedly requires journalists to seek authorisation from the court registrar before reporting on a case. Alhaji Said Sinare, a former NDC Member of Parliament for the Ayawaso Central Constituency, is standing trial along with an electoral officer, Stanley Nii Armah, for alleged electoral malpractices.
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) condemns the decision of the judge to prevent the journalists covering the proceedings of an open trial. A public, transparent, judicial process is a necessary requirement of any fair trial.