Are Journalists Safe?

NOT too long ago, the world marked World Press Freedom Day in Accra, Ghana. It was a day that was savored by especially journalists in this country.

IT demonstrated that Ghana has come of age in the area of entrenching press freedom.  That notwithstanding, recent attacks on Ghanaian journalists are not only worrying but also threaten press freedom

THESE incessant attacks seem to be the order of the day with officialdom virtually doing nothing concrete about them.  The question that arises is: are we safe as journalists?

MANY would think that this is a premature question, believing that these are only pockets of attacks.  The fact is that these are not isolated cases!

ALMOST on a weekly basis, we hear reports of journalists being assaulted or abused in some form.

Of course, the recent one is the incident that took place at the national headquarters of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) where a staunch member of the party Hajia Fati admitted slapping a journalist working with Adom FM, a member of the Multimedia Group.

LISTENING to her, Haji Fati makes a shocking defence of her unruly action by averring that she thought the Adom FM reporter was one of the onion sellers at the markets.

THAT statement by the strong NPP activist is not only insulting but also more importantly insulting!  So, is Madam Fati trying to say that onion sellers in this country have no rights?  Or even if they have rights one can trampled on them with such impunity like she did?

AND even if she was an onion seller did that give her the licence to slap and abuse her?  For us at Today there is absolutely no justification for Hajia Fati to resort to that line of action, coming from a political party that believed in the freedom of the press.

TODAY must bluntly state that Madam Fati’s justification for her action only adds insult to injury.

HOWEVER, it is refreshing to hear the NPP leadership condemn the act by one of its staunchest members.  This was stated in a statement issued yesterday and signed by the party’s acting General Secretary, John Boadi.

ACCORDING to the statement, “The party [NPP] wishes to assure Ghanaian journalists that, it respects and cherishes the role of the media as partners in development and does not condone any action intended to suppress press freedom.”

INASMUCH as it is good for the NPP to condemn the act, we would want to see a situation where the party’s leadership will be firm in taking disciplinary action(s) against some of their members who go overboard.  That will certainly help reduce these barbaric attacks on journalists

WE are also encouraged by the fact that our umbrella organisation—Ghana Journalist Association (GJA)—his weighing the option of resorting to the law courts to try and seek justice and protection for those of us in the inky fraternity.

WHILE we join the many well-meaning Ghanaians who have condemned unreservedly Hajia Fati’s action, we also want to urge the powers-that-be to do more to protect journalists in this country.