03.05.2005 General News

Media celebrate Press Freedom Day

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Accra, May 3, GNA - Journalists have been asked to stop deliberately planting false and injurious publications aimed at tarnishing the hard-earned reputation of people in the society. "It seems to me that of late certain sections of the press are tearing the nation apart by deliberately fanning tribal sentiments," Mr Paul Adu-Gyamfi, Immediate Past President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), said on Tuesday.

That practice, according to Mr Adu-Gyamfi, was unprofessional and dishonourable. Journalists should continue to strive for excellence, seek the truth and find the factors that militate against nation building and not yield to the pressures of the powerful in society. Speaking at a forum and a flag-raising ceremony to mark World Press Freedom Day 2005 in Accra, Mr Adu-Gyamfi said after the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law in 2001, the Media as the fourth estate of the realm had fallen foul of high journalistic standards.

He said sections of the Media now indulged in over politicisation of important national issues, extreme sensationalism, wicked and unsubstantiated lies levelled against opponents, exhibition of obscenity and commercialisation of sex, and fanning and encouragement of ethnicity on the body politic.

He said such actions had resulted in a number of aggrieved citizens taking Journalists to court under the civil libel suits with heavy damages placed on such persons and their media houses. Mr Adu-Gyamfi urged the Media to discipline themselves by ensuring that they operated within the confines of their code of conduct and ethics and directed their energies at the smooth functioning of constitutional bodies charged to ensure transparency and good governance.

"It is your duty to probe and find out how bodies like the Electoral Commission, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, National Commission on Civic Education and the National Media Commission are resourced and financed," he advised.

Mr Samuel Opoku-Agyakwa, Coordinator, Friedrich Ebert Foundation, sponsors of the celebration, said the role of the Media was very essential in Ghana's political and social development and, therefore, it needed to be strengthened to promote good governance.

He advised media practitioners to operate and submit to their national bodies to ensure that they were not taken to court under the civil libel law as they practised their profession.

The Day with the global theme: "Media in Good Governance" is globally being observed in Dakar, Senegal, but the Ghana Journalists Association celebrated it under the theme: "Challenges of the Post-Criminal Libel Law Regime." 03 May 05

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