Ghana Alert: Police physically assault journalists

Fatawu Jango and one Tetteh, members of the police marine team stationed at the Senchi ferry in the Eastern Region of Ghana, assaulted Matilda Wemegah and David MacCarthy, a journalist and cameraman of JoyNews, a news channel on Multitv, a nationwide free-to-air multi-channel digital television network.

The MFWA’s correspondent in Ghana reported that on February 14, 2015, Wemegah and MacCarthy went to the Senchi ferry to report on how the ferry is operating with respect to timeliness, cost, etc. They sought permission from one Dadzie, a senior official of the operators of the ferry, to board the ferry to do conduct their investigation.

While interacting with some traders on board the ferry, the TV crew noticed a scuffle between some policemen and a driver of a trailer truck.

MacCarthy subsequently began to film the incident but Jango charged at the cameraman, slapped him and tried to his camera.

When Wemegah attempted to intervene, Jango pushed her aside and she almost fell into the Volta River. When they reached the other side of the river, the policeman dragged MacCarthy on the ground, tearing his trousers and belt.

Tetteh, who was then in a tent on the other side of the river, also assaulted MacCarthy by slapping him.

In an interview with MFWA’s correspondent on February 17, Wemegah said they have filed a complaint at the Police Intelligence and Professional Standards Bureau against the two policemen and they were assured that the matter will be investigated.

“We will also be submitting MacCarthy’s medical report to the (Eastern) regional office of the Ghana Police Service”, Wemegah told the correspondent. “I got a call from the Inspector General of Police after the incident and he apologised and also said he will investigate the matter and take the necessary action”.

The MFWA is concerned about this assault on journalists by the police. Police and military personnel are the greatest violators of freedom of expression in West Africa, according to the MFWA’s latest report.  Last year, the MFWA raised concerns about the increasing number of violations against journalists by members of the security agencies in Ghana. We continue to urge members of security agencies to uphold their obligations as duty-bearers to respect and protect freedom of expression and also to recognise the media’s role in democracy, development and peace-building.

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