Ghana: Stakeholders Discuss Safety of Journalists

The chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), Mr Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo has emphasised the need for responsible journalism, as a measure for curbing attacks on journalists in the country.

According to him, journalists in their pursuit to work in a safe and secured environment must equally ensure that they upheld the tenets of responsibility.

"I hope that Ghanaian journalists, in the pursuit of the fact that we want to work in a secured and safe environment, take up our responsibilities and ensure that we do not sacrifice the interest of any other Ghanaian in the name of exercising our freedom, would acknowledge that the exercise of freedom demands responsibility", he added.

Mr Boadu-Ayeboafo made the call at a day's stakeholder engagement on the framework for the National Coordinating Mechanism on the safety of journalists in Accra yesterday.

The meeting organised by the Ministry of Information in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and cultural Organisation (UNESCO) was kick-start the validation process for a new framework that would seek to guide and create the necessary framework for journalists to practice their profession in a safe and sound environment.

In attendance were the representatives of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Canadian High Commission, the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Armed Forces, the Ghana Independent Broadcasting Association, National Media Commission and the Ghana Journalist Association.

Others included the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), The National Peace Council, Civil Society Organizations, journalism training institutions and practicing journalists.

Mr Boadu-Ayeboafo said it was very important that as we struggled to ensure that journalists work in freedom and in safety, the journalist must equally ensure that they do not injure the psychological safety of the people that they write about.

He explained that this was very important because there must be complimentality, stressing that "That is why the discussions today must be taken seriously because we are talking about the safety and the responsibility in the discharge of the work of the journalists."

Mr Boadu-Ayeboafo said while no one could discount the role that the Ghanaian journalist had played in strengthening the democratic dispensation, it was important that persons who were privileged to be at the meeting input into the document so as to become their own.

On his part the Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah explained that freedom for all journalists and responsible journalism ought not to be the focus of any single stakeholder but of all stakeholders, adding that "there is the need for journalists to operate freely and to raise the issues that they deemed fit freely."

"This framework that we are putting together has something at the heart of it which we believe will go a long way to help us achieve the objectives ahead of us," he emphasised.

He noted that at the heart of this framework, was the establishment of a permanent multi-stakeholder committee that would be charged with ensuring that a safe and conducive environment existed for the practice of responsible journalism in the country.

The Press Attaché at the US Embassy who represented the US Ambassador to Ghana, Ms Naomi Mattos said her country was committed to the belief in press freedom and would continue to support Ghana in the pursuit of ensuring safe and responsible journalism in the country.

She said the US embassy was pleased to see the Ministry of Information lead the charge to ensure that the communication channels open between the government and its people.

Ms Mattos said it was important to emphasize that a free press ensured that the citizens were more informed active and engage in the political decision making and could better hold their governments accountable.

"We believe that all democratic nations must consistently promote freedom of the press and a climate whereby journalists are free to do their work without fear, harassment or without intimidation," she said.

She said the US condemns the attacks on journalist and the murder of Ahmed Suale a young journalist who was merely doing his work adding that "We call for a thorough investigation."

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