Police-media engagement should lead to improved safety of journalists situation in Ghana – MFWA

The Media Foundation for West Africa MFWA salutes the Police Administration for its initiative to deepen engagement with the media by paying a working visit to some media houses.

Led by the Inspector-General of Police, Dr. George Akuffo-Dampare the top brass of the Police including members of the Police Management Board and the Accra Regional Police Commander on June 7, 2022, visited the offices of Citi TV and Despite Media to interact with the respective Managements of the two Accra-based media groups in what it termed “a feedback-driven working visit.”

Inspector-General of Police, Dr. George Akuffo-Dampare, in a pose with some management members of Citi FM and TV

The IGP and his team requested feedback on the performance of the Police Service and the general state of security, law and order in the country.

The officials of the two media houses hailed the move by the Police Service to improve relations with the media, and expressed the hope that the initiative would be sustained. They commended the police for their efforts which have led to significant reduction in incidents of robbery across the country, and pledged their cooperation to ensure that the country becomes more secure for all residents.

The MFWA sees this outreach by the police leadership as healthy and constructive as it is in line with the Framework on Police-Media Relations and the Safety of Journalists adopted on May 22, 2019.

The Framework, adopted by the Police and the media actors with the MFWA’s facilitation, recommends, for instance, that “the police and media professional organisations in Ghana should consider setting up a committee, ad hoc or standing, as may be considered appropriate, whose mandate will be to convene periodic dialogue sessions on issues on journalists’ safety and police-media relations generally.”

It also recognises that “It is in the public interest, and enhances the police’s work of public safety, that the police routinely engage media leaders in special background briefings on critical public safety and security developments and issues.”

The MFWA, therefore, urges the Police Service to institutionalise the police-media engagement as recommended by the Framework.

Improved relations between the police and the media will enhance their respective work. In the first place, the security service is an important source of information and verification of information for journalists. On the other hand, the work of journalists exposes wrongdoing and potential crime for the Police to act on.

Secondly, the media provides a critical platform for the police to educate, advise and inform the public about safety, security and law-and-order issues.

It is clear, therefore, that the two institutions are in a symbiotic relationship which must be regularly enhanced to improve the output of each side.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, there have been many instances of tension and misunderstanding between the two institutions. Indeed, the Police are among the most dominant perpetrators of attacks against journalists, according to the MFWA’s monitoring reports on press freedom. The unresolved attack on Latif Iddris of Joy News by a group of Police officers is a case in point.

We, therefore, urge the police to carry out more sensitization among its officers and men about the right to press freedom and the need for police officers to not only respect these rights but also protect the safety of journalists.

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