The United States ambassador to Ghana, Her Excellency (HE) Virginia E. Palmer, has called on the country to strongly protect press freedom and rights from legal infringements.
Speaking at the 27th Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Awards, an annual ceremony that recognizes and honors journalists, she noted the periodic attacks and harassment that some face while carrying out their jobs. She also cautioned journalists to remain firm and report facts fairly and accurately.
“We know that when journalists come under attack, democracy suffers; sometimes greater than smaller. Ghana has experienced some attacks on journalists, and such attacks and violations of the law are unacceptable. Ghana must fiercely protect its hard-earned press freedom from legal encroachment. Journalists should not have to fear physical attacks or harassment. Journalists have a professional responsibility to report facts fairly and accurately.”
Ambassador Palmer expressed concerns about the ongoing debate on a bill that aims to restrict journalists from reporting on a specific group, stating that it poses a potential threat to press freedom.
“I will note with some sadness that parliament is now considering a bill that will prohibit journalists from reporting on a minority group in the future. In the midst of this debate, the potential threats to press freedom do not seem to be well understood.”
In her conclusion, she identified the central role journalists play in maintaining democracy and stability.
“Your role as a journalist is essential to ensuring that Ghana’s democracy is fully accountable to its people. A free and fair press identifies mistakes in governments including mine and ask the difficult questions. That is the type of accountability that allows democracy and stability to reign.”
Coincidentally, her comments are preceded by recent attacks on journalists all over the country, with the one of the recent ones being an attack on some journalists at UTV. Many authority figures and stakeholders across the country have been making calls for the rights and freedom of the press to be respected.
Story by : Michelle Lartey | univers.ug.edu.gh