The Minister for the Interior, Albert Kan-Dapaah, has called for a responsible media reportage and a broader education on the complex activities in the country’s criminal justice system.
'Indeed, I have heard it argued that we should seek to institutionalise the media as a regular pillar in the criminal justice system,' he said.
Speaking at workshop on combating organised crime here yesterday, he explained that such initiative would make the torch of press freedom burn brighter to guide media practitioners in their role towards peace, security and prosperity of the country.
The two day workshop, oganised by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) in conjunction with the British High Commission is on the theme: 'The Role of the Media in Combating Organised Crime'
Editors, senior journalists and police personnel are discussing ways to improve media-police relations to enhance cooperation to expose organised crime.
The participants will also identify challenges facing the media in crime reporting and security issues, and encourage the police to provide protection to media personnel in their line of duty.
Mr.Kan-Dapaah said that criminologists have established that crime coverage presents negative image regarding the effectiveness of the police and the courts in controlling crime and punishing criminals, adding 'news coverage fails to educate readers on the factors leading to crime or how to avoid personal victimization'.
Crime and its related activities, he said, pose unbearable effects on the economic dynamics and security of a country, noting 'governments lose billions in tax revenues from criminal activities'.
He noted that although the criminal justice institutions for combating crime have shown to be doing their best, they still have limited capacity to match the regularity and sophistication of organised crime in recent times.
He therefore advocated a new approach to involve all stakeholders in the country to confront the menace, saying that the portrayal of the police as 'toothless bulldogs' in the media urges people to tempt them. 'When we write to ridicule the police as toothless bulldogs, don’t we end up encouraging criminals?'
The president of the GJA, Ransford Tetteh, appealed to the police to provide greater protection for journalists as a result of the high level of occupational hazard.
He said that although journalists are not police offcers, their role in society requires them to be watchdogs of society.
He said the approach, methodology and mode of execution sometimes result in disagreement but advised that such situation should not lead to antagonism which may result in physical attacks on media personnel as was the case last year.
The British High Commissioner, Gordon Wetherell, said fighting organised crime is important in itself, especially as Ghana celebrates its 50th anniversary and pledged the assistance of the United Kingdom in this and other related cases.