The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) condemns unequivocally attacks on media practitioners in some parts of the country, while they were covering the December 2012 elections and related events after the polls. These developments are causing a serious dent on Ghana's democratic credentials.
The Association has received formal complaints from the Multimedia Group, Metro TV and TV 3 Network on attacks on their journalists in their line of duty by alleged New Patriotic Party (NPP) supporters.
In the case of Multimedia, on Sunday December 9, 2012, Benjamin Tetteh of Joy News, who was with the campaign team of the presidential candidate of the Party, was pushed out of the NPP campaign office at Ridge and threatened.
On Monday, December 10, a Joy News vehicle in the convoy of the visiting African Union Chairman, President Yayi Boni of Benin, at the Nima residence of the NPP's presidential candidate, Nana, Akufo-Addo, was attacked and its lights smashed. The news team says they were prevented from covering that meeting and had to run away to seek refuge at the Nima Police Station.
On Tuesday, December 11, a Joy News journalist, Emmanuel Ante was chased out of the NPP office. Later, some young men among a group of NPP supporters demonstrating at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle physically assaulted him when he was identified as a journalist working for Multimedia.
In the case of Metro TV, the crew which had been invited to cover a press conference at the NPP office on Sunday, 9th December, was attacked by some party supporters and the windscreen of their vehicle smashed.
Eastern regional correspondent of the station David Attoh was attacked and Northern Regional correspondent, Abdallah Mohammed, was threatened.
The TV 3 Network crew made up of Edward Balami and Steven Boadi who went to cover an NPP rally at "Obra Spot" said they were accused of "belonging to the media establishment concocting false election results".
The GJA wishes to remind all Ghanaians that when they are aggrieved of media reportage, they are required to lodge complaints with the National Media Commission. They could also inform the GJA. But as a last resort, they could go and seek redress at the law courts rather than take the law into their own hands. No attack on the media can be justifiable.
These developments are an indication that there are still people who are not only highly intolerant of the media but also ready to deal with them ruthlessly and with impunity. This does not augur well for our democracy.
The media are indispensable to the building of democracy. We therefore wish to appeal to all political parties to educate their supporters on the need to preserve press freedom and freedom of expression and to restrain their supporters from carrying out such acts of hooliganism and intimidation which undermine democracy.
We urge the leadership of the NPP to calm down their supporters and to consider rendering an apology to all the affected media houses in the spirit of reconciliation and respect for press freedom.