GJA charged to establish a media defence fund to protect journalists
The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has been admonished to set up a media defence fund to fight for attacked journalists in the country.
Aside from the fund, dedicated lawyers should be ready to respond to threats, and all forms of attacks meted out against journalists.
This, according to lawyer and Deputy Director of IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil, would position the GJA to deal with such matters promptly.
“GJA should have a media defence fund where they actively solicit for funding to put down so that when these things happen, you will have resources ready, and they should have a list of lawyers, so that when it happens, there will be a clear connection to a certain set of responses,” he advised.
Mr Bentil said this when he contributed to discussions concerning threats by MP for Assin Central, Kennedy Agyapong, on the life of a journalist.
He advised that the fund should be operated to caution everyone that media attackers would be brought to book.
He noted that, other than that, “we will continue to have this problem” of media attacks.
Likewise, he further stated that this defence mechanism would relay a message across to attackers of the media that “we will not as a society tolerate people attacking the media, not because of the media, but it is fundamental for our democracy to survive.”
He underscored the essence of the media to democracy, indicating that the media is the binding force of the state.
“The media in many ways may be more important than politicians because of their role in making sure that the state is held together and that we all can enjoy the freedom that God has given us.”
Brief background on the threat on the multimedia journalist
The Multimedia Group has since filed a complaint against Mr Agyapong who doubles as the Chairman of the Defence and Interior Committee of parliament, for threatening the life of the journalist.
The threat was made on ‘The Attitude’ programme on Net 2 TV, a station owned by the MP, on July 9, 2021.
In the letter dated July 13 2021, addressed to the Deputy Regional Commander of the Ashanti Region, the media group demanded security protection for Erastus Asare Donkor.
Information Ministry commissions secretariat to advocate for media freedom
In May this year, the Information Ministry established a secretariat to deal with the safety of journalists.
The secretariat, known as the National Coordinated Mechanism on the Safety of Journalists, enables media practitioners to report issues of intimidation and harassment in their line of duty for investigation.
The Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, who commissioned the secretariat, stated that the centre would add to existing protection layers to fight for journalists’ rights and freedoms.
These layers include the Right to Information Act, establishment of the Right to Information Commission, and the repeal of the Criminal Libel law.
These, the minister said, would strengthen media practice, as opposed to the claims of media silence in Ghana.