The relevance of the work of journalists regarding information flow to people all over the country and beyond cannot be overemphasized and therefore, require an act to provide stiffer punishment for assaulting a journalist verbally or physically for doing their lawful duty of unbiased investigation and reporting on issues of national concerns and in the interest of the public.
In recent past, there have been several attacks on journalists as they were performing their legitimate duties of covering stories involving demonstrators, the police, sports and entertainment, political party issues among others. Most of these went unpunished or at best little attention was paid them. This situation if not checked can be a big disincentive for our journalists to go the extra mile in performing their three core duties of educating, informing and entertaining the populace.
Journalists by legislation are the fourth estate of the realm who feed the general public with relevant and useful information on governance, business, education, entertainment, and many others, yet people who are implicated or exposed in their reportage take offence and instead of using the appropriate and legitimate means to seek redress, take the law into their own hands and subject them to physical assault.
If our journalists are not protected by an act of parliament or legislation, the work of journalism may no longer be attractive as people with interest in journalism may lose it for fear of their lives and safety. In the light of the above, there is, therefore, the need to be very concerned about the attacks on journalists and enforce the necessary laws to the latter to deter citizens from attempting any assault on them.
Much as we await the passage of Right to Information Bill into law soon, we believe recent murders, beatings and verbal assault on journalists require a special act solely to protect journalists or the existing laws thoroughly enforced to assure
them of comfort, security, and protection to do their work peacefully and professionally without any intimidation. There should be room to, of course, check the excesses of journalists who may be unprofessional in the line of discharging their duties.
It is an eye saw to see politicians, pastors and other members of the public to call into live programmes to issue threats with some even walking into studios of stations and newspaper houses to beat up or assault a journalist for having offended them in their programmes or publications.
As a country, we do not have to allow this to continue hence the call for stiffer punishments to the offending members of the public as legislation for their protection and safety is worked on by the parliament of Ghana. Killers of journalists unfortunately, are never found and prosecuted. The case of the late Edward Enning and Ahmed Hussein Suale are still fresh in the minds of Ghanaians.
PIRAN.GH, therefore, calls for the interdiction and prosecution of the eleven police men who assaulted three journos from the Ghanaian Times to serve as a deterrent to others contemplating similar actions.
James Kwaku Dumenyah
Felix Djan Foh