Minister Responsible for Information Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has stated that the Coordinated Mechanism on the Safety of Journalists under the function of accountability, has not been very successful.
“The need to hold the investigative, prosecutorial, and judicial agencies accountable for the incidents reported to them, cannot be overemphasized,” he said
Mr. Oppong Nkrumah delivered a statement on the floor of parliament on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, on the “Efforts to Improve Safety Of Journalists in Ghana”.
He told parliament that in some instances, the Ministry of Information has had to intervene and make direct reports to the Ghana Police Service as well as demand accountability on the investigation, prosecution, and punishment of perpetrators.
However, the Coordinated Mechanism on the Safety of Journalists he noted has equally chalked minimal success since its inception. Under its advocacy function, the office conducted training sessions in 2019 for journalists in the Northern region.
The Ministry of Information has also been engaging the Judicial Service, advocating for severe punishment by the judiciary of persons who attack journalists and media houses.
Among others, in 2022 the Ministry in collaboration with UNESCO, organized a 3-day workshop with 25 judges on freedom of expression and safety of journalists in line with international norms and regional standards, and in our opinion, it was useful. The report by the office determined that the handling of Mr Kudah was excessive and unprofessional.
The National Security Ministry accordingly dissolved the SWAT teams that operated under it and returned officers to their mother agencies. Other incidents of reported attacks on journalists have also been investigated by the office, with findings conveyed to security and prosecutorial agencies for action.
In conclusion, he made these three requests which will help for greater success in operating this mechanism.
1. It will be helpful for Parliament to assist in holding the agencies accountable for the incidents that have been reported to them. I call on this house to partner with the NMC in this effort.
2. Closer collaboration among stakeholder groups in the public communications sector is required. As we have argued from the Ministry of Information, no single stakeholder group can successfully tackle this issue on its own. Greater Collaboration and cooperation is what is required.
3. Mr Speaker, additionally, the NMC requires more resources to succeed at implementing the mechanism. The Ministry of Information has supported it with its limited resources.
Additionally, he made a call on the special budget committee of Parliament to advocate for more resources for the NMC to implement this. A well-funded mechanism is essential to provide the tools, training, and support needed to enhance the security of our journalists as they carry out their vital roles in society.
By: Mary Quartey