Journalists' petition to Prez Mahama a significant step but… – Exec. Dir of MFWA

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The Executive Director of Media Foundation for West Africa, Sulemana Braimah, has welcomed the zeal with which some 155 Ghanaian journalists assented to a petition to President John Mahama to have one of his aides sanctioned for alleged assault of a journalist.

“For me, it signals journalists who are ready and willing to stand up for their rights; journalists who think that impunity shouldn’t be condoned in this country,” he told Bridget Otoo on TV3’s News @10 on Wednesday night.

“It’s a very significant development and I’m quite confident that the president wouldn’t give a deaf ear to so many journalists demanding” sanctions against Mr. Stan Dogbe, who reportedly assaulted and destroyed the voice recorder of Yahaya Kuamoah, a reporter with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) whom he accused of recording a private conversation.

Notwithstanding the zeal shown by the signatories, he expressed shock at the action of some journalists who he said although were in favour of the petition, did not want to be associated with it publicly.

“These are journalists; people who should be fighting for the rights of the ordinary people..and if they are not willing to act in ways that will make their rights guaranteed…then I don’t think that such people are fit to be in that profession of journalism because journalism is activism; holding people to account. If you can’t get your own rights to be respected I doubt how you’re going to make sure that other people’s right are protected,” he stated.

He wondered the essence of what he referred to as the diplomatic posturing of some Ghanaian journalists who would almost always accept anything in so far as they get favours from public officers and politicians among others

“I’ve been completely shocked, the extent to which journalists in this country would accept anything and say oh let’s take it like that. Experiences that I had with journalist elsewhere sometimes makes me wonder whether journalists in this country care about their life and care about what must exist for them to do their work,” he said.

Mr. Braimah added: “It’s got to a time where we have to be open”

On whether journalists should boycott the Presidency should the President fail to act on the petition, Mr. Braimah said that will not be the best way noting that since journalism thrives on information, practitioners would need the presidency and  ministers.

He was however quick to add that that does not in any way mean they should cheapen themselves and submit to the dictates of politicians, noting journalism “is about being bold, courageous and independent minded”.

Assault

The assault was said to have happened at the 37 Military Hospital where victims of the presidential press corps accident which killed one journalist, Samuel Nuamah and injured others on August 20, 2015 had been taken to for medical attention.

Many, including the Media Foundation for West Africa, have condemned the actions of Mr. Dogbe with some demanding his removal since his action, described as shameful, has brought the Presidency into disrepute.

Although the Chief of Staff reportedly took up the matter, nothing has been heard or done about the incident, almost two months after.

Petition

The situation prompted the Foundation, which has been championing press freedom in the sub-region, to lead a campaign to get Mr. Dogbe sanctioned for his action. A petition put together by the Foundation received 155 signatories of journalists from various media institutions in the country.

The petition, which was presented to the Flagstaff House Wednesday afternoon said: “It is important to point out that the aggression by your staffer happened at a sad moment for journalists when colleagues covering your office had been involved in a serious accident that resulted in the death of one colleague with others sustaining serious injuries”.

The petitioners add: “We are concerned that over a month after the incident, and despite the several pleas from many people and organisations, your office has not acted on the matter.”

“It is our considered view that the conduct of a staff of your highly esteemed office has a direct bearing on the reputation of the office. We, therefore, call on you to show personal commitment to the rights of journalists and your intolerance of acts that may bring your highly esteemed office into disrepute,” the petition demands.

By: Stephen Kwabena Effah/3news.com/Ghana

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