Government is working with GJA to protect journalists, says Bawumia Featured

By By Kwasi Frimpong November 25, 2019 713 0

Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia has assured Ghanaians that the government is committed to ensuring the safety of journalists.

To this end, it is working with the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) to institute a co-ordinated mechanism to ensure that journalists can carry out their normal duties without fear of any sort, Dr Bawumia said.

The GJA complains that the lack of stringent punishment for perpetrators of crimes against journalists often emboldens others to engage in similar crimes.

The president of the GJA, Roland Affail Monney, has therefore called on all interested parties to help fight against “the impunity” that he described as constraining the work of journalists in Ghana.

“We are part of a stakeholder group to craft a framework and mechanism to address the issue of incessant attacks on journalists,” Mr Monney said. “The thread that runs through the attacks is impunity. If impunity is not addressed, it grants more impunity. It re-energises a self-propelling cycle and makes it difficult for it to be uprooted.

“We appeal to all stakeholders to help us fight ferociously the cancer of impunity before it spreads beyond control,” he said.

Development focus

Speaking at a gala ceremony at the weekend to mark the GJA’s 70th anniversary and 24th awards night, Vice-President Bawumia offered journalists his assurance that the government will do everything it can to protect them at all times.

The theme of the event was “Democracy, Freedom and Independence of the Press in Ghana: 70 Years of the GJA’s Contributions”.

Making reference to the critical role they play in national development, Dr Bawumia urged journalists to give attention to development-oriented news reportage. He further appealed to them to use their platforms to engage in constructive criticism and to highlight development-oriented issues.

Dr Bawumia said the government needs the critical and analytical lenses of journalists, both to highlight problems and to let the world know the good things that leaders and Ghanaians in general are doing.

Take stock

“As we gather together in the fraternity of the media and journalism profession, it should not be lost on us to take stock of our works in the past, look inward and examine how we have felt, and look forward to perfect what we shall do into the future,” the Vice-President said.

He reminded journalists of some of the basics of their profession that they must respect and of which they must remind themselves continually.

“Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth,” he said; “its first loyalty is to citizens, its essence is a discipline of verification and its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.

“It must serve as an independent monitor of power,” he added. “It must provide a public forum for public criticism and compromise. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportionate.”

Dr Bawumia argued that practitioners of journalism must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience, bearing in mind that citizens, too, have rights and responsibilities when it comes to news.

“I believe these are critical elements of journalism that every journalist should try to embrace for us to build a better society,” he said.

State support

Dr Bawumia said the Akufo-Addo-led government is committed to supporting the work of the media.

He recounted how President Kufuor’s government repealed the criminal libel law and furnished the GJA with a permanent working office.

Under President Nana Akufo-Addo, he said, the government has also passed the decades-old Right to Information (RTI) law to enhance journalists’ work.

Vice-President Bawumia also hinted that the government is partnering with the GJA to embark on capacity enhancement training for media personnel in Ghana.

“The need to have a co-ordinated mechanism for the safety of journalists has gained prime importance in the world over as attacks on journalists have been on the rise globally. Additionally, the need to have media function exceptionally in our democracy has birthed the capacity enhancement programme.

“I am informed that your leadership has been working closely with the government through the Ministry of Information in designing these interventions,” he said. “It is my expectation that these interventions will serve us all very well.”

Top gong

The GJA’s 70th-anniversary celebrations climaxed with the Association’s 24th awards ceremony, held at the Kempinski Gold Coast Hotel in Accra.

Doreen Hammond emerged as the Overall Best Journalist for the Year 2018. Ms Hammond, of Graphic Communications Group Ltd, was also adjudged the Best Columnist.

Di Asa, a reality show on Atinka TV that showcases plus-size women exhibiting their dancing skills, was adjudged the Best Arts and Entertainment Programme.

The other award recipients include Rebecca Kwei, Best HIV/Aids Reporter (Daily Graphic), Maxwell Akalaare Adombilla, Best Economic and Financial Reporter/print (Graphic Business); Nana Konadu Agyeman, Best Transport and Road Safety Reporter/print (Daily Graphic); Moses Dotse Aklorbortu, Best Oil and Gas Reporter (Graphic Business) and Maclean Kwofi, Best Maritime Reporter/print (Graphic Business).

Other winners are Kester Aburam Kuranchie, Best Investigative Reporter (Graphic Business), Edmund Smith-Asante, Best Tourism Reporter/print (Daily Graphic), Charles Andoh, Best Education Reporter/print (Mirror) and Charles Benoni Okine, Best Telecommunications Reporter/print (Graphic Business).

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Last modified on Tuesday, 26 November 2019 07:00

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