The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has called on judges to, with speed, punish severely perpetrators of attacks on journalists, irrespective of their social status and political affiliations.
That, he explained, was urgently required to stem the tide of attacks against journalists.
Mr Nkrumah was speaking at the opening ceremony of a training workshop for judges on the need to protect the freedom of expression and the safety of journalists in Ho yesterday.
Wheels of justice
“The wheels of justice may grind slowly, but My Lord Chief Justice, the feedback I have from my media colleagues is that some quick punitive action targeted at the perpetrators of infringements against media practitioners will be appreciated.
“It will be the strongest message to the next batch of state and non-state actors that it is not acceptable to attack journalists, no matter how much you disagree with what they say,” the minister said.
The workshop was designed to deepen the capacity of judges in dealing with matters of freedom of expression and safety of journalists and reinforce their expertise towards fighting abuses against journalists by ensuring the prosecution and trial of those responsible for those attacks.
Twenty-five judges of the High Court and the Court of Appeal attended the programme
The UNESCO Country Representative, Abdourahmane Diallo, said the issues of freedom of expression and the safety of journalists were very delicate and demanded the attention of duty-bearers, arbitration authorities and the security services.
That, he explained, was because freedom of expression and the safety of journalists were fundamental freedoms and indices determining how compliant or negligent a country was, relative to its constitutional provisions on those fundamental freedoms.
A Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Dennis Adjei, who represented the Chief Justice, underscored the need for collaboration among stakeholders in the media space to build a more robust ecosystem that ensured that infringements on the safety of journalists were reduced to the barest minimum, if not eradicated entirely.
The Ministry of Information, to address the issue of attacks on journalists, has set in motion a number of programmes, with the objective of supporting the media.
The engagements have, since 2019, led to the development of some key interventions aimed at supporting the media industry to confront the key issues it is faced with.
First was the inauguration of the Office of the Coordinated Mechanism on the Safety of Journalists (CMSJ) under the National Media Commission (NMC).
Key to the operation of that office is the development of a framework for use by all stakeholders to create a safe and conducive environment for the practice of journalism; prevent violence against journalists, protect journalists in danger and prosecute perpetrators of violence against journalists.
The ministry, through its Media Capacity Enhancement Programme (MCEP), is also providing training for 250 journalists on emerging issues in journalism.
That forms part of collaborative efforts to support the sector, which has been challenged in recent times.
The Right to Information (RTI) Law has also been rolled out in full. This includes the training and deployment or designation of RTI officers in the almost 600 government offices nationwide.
It also includes the establishment of the RTI Commission, which has been making impressive strides in ensuring compliance by public offices with the RTI Act.
Also, the ministry facilitated a broad-based consultation on a new Broadcasting Bill which will assist state institutions better regulate the broadcasting sector.