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18.11.2005 General News

Freedom of speech is not freedom to lie - Akufo-Addo

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Accra, Nov. 18, GNA - Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Friday urged journalists to remember that freedom of expression was not the same as freedom to lie.

He told journalists in Accra that government was determined to encourage the media by ensuring a free media landscape for them to work to benefit the public, "but you must remember at all times that the freedom you have is one of expression, which is not the same thing as freedom to lie."

Nana Akufo-Addo warned that the vicious, irresponsible few journalists who were determined to abuse the free expression would be dealt with according to the law and due process.

He gave the warning at a press soiree organised by the ministry to interact with the media as part of activities to close the year's activities. The occasion was also used to re-launch the revamped Newsletter of the ministry with a new name, Omankyeame (The State linguist).

The Minister noted that the world was genuinely impressed and envious of the free and open society that existed in Ghana, which was characterised by the freest media landscape in Africa.

He said, as beneficiaries of one of the freest media landscapes in the world, underpinned by the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law, Ghanaian journalists were guardians of free expression and were at the centre of the new Ghanaian awakening.

"I will always be proud of my role as the Attorney-General, who, on the instructions of the President, was responsible for the repeal of the criminal libel law, which has expanded the boundaries of freedom in our state, but it is expected that the freedom provided would be used responsibly especially by journalists," he said.

Nana Akufo-Addo said the need for truth and accuracy in reporting could not be overemphasised, adding that government would request that, when in doubt, journalists should seek clarification from the appropriate quarters.

"This will help to avoid misinformation, which ...can be very harmful to the national and individual interest, and often difficult to correct," he said. Nana Akufo-Addo assured journalists that the doors of government were opened and government was ready to respond to enquiries by journalist in a timely manner to ensure that the public was duly informed.

Touching on the re-launch of Omankyeame, the minister noted that the quarterly newsletter of the ministry had gone out of publication for the past decade, saying that the need to re-introduce it at this time was informed by the fact that in the emerging international system, the lines between international and domestic affairs had become blurred. "Thus, in formulating effective national development strategies, we are constantly reminded and challenged to anticipate and address likely international responses to them," he said. "The ministry will need to partner with the media in informing the public about international issues which directly affect our domestic lives."

The first (October - December, 2005) 31-page edition of the revamped newsletter was foreworded by the minister himself and has a detailed article on Ghana's Foreign Policy, also authored by the minister.

Other topics discussed in the newsletter include, The Foreign Service Officer as Trade and Investment Promotion Officer (TIPO), The Tony Blair's Initiative for Africa and the G8 Debt Relief, among others.

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