Attack on media freedom: Akufo-Addo made convenient, simplistic analysis – MFWA


General News of Tuesday, 10 September 2019


Executive Director of MFWA, Sulemana Braimah

The Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has said the President made a simplistic and convenient analysis of issues bothering on media freedom.

Sulemana Braima said although he agrees with the President Akufo-Addo that crime is crime, the murder of Ahmed Suale was an attack on press freedom.

“I don’t know why the president would say that [the killing of Ahmed Suale] does not constitute a crime against the media or threat to media freedom unless he has evidence to the contrary,” he told Evans Mensah on Newsnight.

According to him, many people said that when a columnist for The Washington Post, Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi was murdered in Turkey.

He said it is quite baffling that the president makes the analogy that, because the murder of J.B. Danquah Adu was not said to be an attack on Parliament, the same thing should not be said because of Mr Suale’s killing.

The President at a Ghana Bar Association conference in Takoradi on Monday said no effort is being made to suppress freedom of expression in the country.

He said the continuing vitality of the Ghanaian media and the intense diversity of the public discourse remain some of the most internationally admired traits of Ghanaian democracy.

he stated that there is the need for continuous training, self-regulation and an insistence on acceptable media ethics and journalistic standards by media houses, practitioners and their organizations, as part of the process of installing a culture of accountable governance, requiring high standards and professionalism in the Ghanaian media.

This, he said, is one of the surest ways of addressing the current shortcomings and ills of the media landscape.

In reaction to his comment, Mr Braima said he does not evidence to show that government was making any effort to stifle media freedom but “no effort is being made on the path of government to guarantee and protect these rights [right of free expression].

He explained further that “Because when a violation of these rights occur government turns a blind eye and his comments reflect that.”

According to him, President Akufo-Addo’s loud since at the conference on the over 40 incidents of attack on journalist since he took over professionalism is baffling.

“Government have the responsibility to ensure that the enabling environment is created for journalists to be safe and indeed we have witnessed a number of acts that certainly constitute attack and undermines press freedom under his regime.”

Mr Braima said it is not out of place for governments to demand journalists are trained and retooled to be responsible.

But was quick to ask, “if government begins to emphasise the word responsibility, responsible journalism, in whose eyes are the journalists judged to be responsible or otherwise?”

“We need to really confront this issue of government trying to push down our throats what it calls responsible journalism without defining what it is. Yes! there are lapses in the practice but it is not only in Ghana but in the advanced societies there are still issues

“But that cannot be the grounds and should not constitute the grounds for government to ignore attacks happening on media practitioners including some which are perpetrated by government agencies,” he said.

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