Do Not Misinterpret Caution To Mean Stifle Media Freedom – Speaker

The Speaker, Professor Aaron Mike Ocquaye has called on people not to misinterpret his caution to the media in Parliament to mean an attempt to stifle media freedom in parliament.

According to him, the media are most welcomed as guests of the House and would do everything to assist them to discharge their duties professionally.

Prof Oquaye has come under heavy criticism for his directive to the media in Parliament to have their accreditation revoked when majority of them abandoned coverage of proceedings in the chamber on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 during the debate on President Akufo-Addo’s 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The journalists were rather conducting interviews with some Minority Members of Parliament (MPs), following the decision by the Minority to abstain from the debate on the SONA in line with a previous walkout staged on the day the President was about to deliver the message on the SONA.

The media later returned after their interviews with the Minority’s MPs.
Prof Oquaye cautioned the media not to abandon the plenary of parliament for some other work outside the chamber at any given time whether from the Minority or Majority side.

“Our democracy is young, let us learn and act responsibly ….I personally have supported media freedom since 1967, when my first article appeared in the Ghanaian Times, and I have consistently stood by that,” Ocqauye said.

According to him, no organisation whether of lawyers or doctors were perfect and as such must be streamlined and critiqued to enable the country to develop.

Prof Oquaye further stated that under his leadership, and with the cooperation of both the Majority and Minority Leadership, the Parliament of Ghana was revising its rules to strengthen the media to do its work and even cover Committee meetings.

He maintained that Parliament would continue to support the media, but they have the right to help and direct them to develop.
“We are for them, but they are our children, we must also help them and direct them to develop, that is the national pledge. No group people are beyond criticism,” he said.

He also charged the media to report facts accurately and not skew their reports to any side of the House.

Mr Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader, assured the media that Parliament would continue to uphold the rights to free expression guaranteed and protected under the 1992 constitution.

He said parliament as an institution was the citadel of democracy and the media remained the top ally if the nation wanted to deepen transparency and accountability.

He said Parliament would not support any individual or institution that wanted to limit the frontiers of democracy.