Abuja — Ghanaian authorities must thoroughly investigate allegations that police officers beat journalist Caleb Kudah in custody; arbitrarily detained Kudah and his colleague, Zoe Abu-Baidoo Addo; and deleted photos from their phones, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On May 11, police officers in Accra, the capital, detained and beat Kudah, a reporter with the privately owned Citi FM broadcaster, according to the journalist, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app and recounted the incident in an interview with Citi FM.
Officers confronted Kudah outside an office of the Ministry of National Security, where they accused him of photographing government vehicles that were allegedly purchased at inflated prices, the journalist said. They then took Kudah to a local police station, where officers took turns slapping and punching him in the back of his head, deleted his photos, and took him outside where an officer kicked him, Kudah told CPJ.
During his detention, the officers saw on Kudah's phone that he had forwarded some of his images to Addo, also a Citi FM reporter, Kudah said. Pretending to be Kudah, the officers messaged Addo and lured her to Citi FM's headquarters, where they arrested her at gunpoint, Kudah told CPJ.
The officers then took both journalists to the local police station, deleted photos from their phones, and released them without charge, according to Kudah and Addo, who also spoke to Citi FM in that interview.
"Ghanaian authorities must identify and hold to account the police officers who assaulted Citi FM journalist Caleb Kudah; arrested Kudah and colleague Zoe Abu-Baidoo Addo; and deleted photos from their phones," said Angela Quintal, CPJ's Africa program coordinator, in New York. "In recent years, journalists in Ghana have too often been subjected to indiscriminate arrests, brutality, and device seizures by security officers."
Kudah told CPJ that the officers brought him in handcuffs to the Citi FM office when they arrested Addo, and then held him in a cell with about 15 others while they deleted the photos from her phone.
He said that his detention lasted about five hours overall, and he was let go after a police officer who voiced opposition to Kudah's mistreatment called a senior officer to secure his release.
On May 18, a representative of the Ministry of National Security contacted Citi FM and said that the ministry was investigating his arrest and alleged abuse in detention, Kudah said.
In the days after the beatings, Kudah felt pains on his back and his lower left ribs, but he said the pain had subsided by the time he spoke to CPJ on May 19.
CPJ called and messaged Minister of National Security Albert Kan-Daapah and police spokesperson Sheilla Kessie Abayie-Buckman for comment, but did not receive any replies.