Ghana UPDATE: GJA condemns criminal prosecution of journalists

The national executive committee of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) called on the Ghana police to use constitutional mechanisms to address grievances and complaints they may have against journalists and the media.

According to the GJA, criminalization of speech in any form was unacceptable and would be resisted with the support of the society in consonance with the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.

At a meeting between the GJA and the Ghana Police Service, there was consensus that the two institutions would cooperate in a manner without necessarily compromising their roles and that the media was not above the law.

The meeting became necessary when the police summoned two editors over news reports in their respective media.

On July 21, Enimil Ashon, editor of the state-owned Ghanaian Times newspaper, was summoned by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the police over a story that the police said was undermining the image of the police.

Earlier on July 19, Ato Kwamena Dadzie, acting news editor of Joy FM, an Accra based independent radio station was charged with “publishing false news with intent to cause fear or harm to the public or to disturb the public peace”, contrary to Section 208 of the country’s Criminal Code of 1960.” The police have since forwarded his docket to the Attorney General’s Department for advice.

Dadzie’s invitation sparked a widespread condemnation of the application of the law. The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) requested the authorities to drop the case and called on supporters of free speech to agitate for the repeal of the law. The Center for Democratic Development (CDD), an Accra-based governance NGO, also in a statement called for the repeal of the law.

However, the Ministry of Information in a statement on July 21 denied that the police had charged Dadzie, saying he had only been cautioned.

The statement signed by John Akologu Tia, the minister of information said “the (President John Atta) Mills administration believes in the strengthening of our institutions including the media and will be the last to truncate the freedom of the press, but the rights that are enjoyed by the media must be balanced with

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