The Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) has filed a petition with the US Department of State through the US Embassy in Ghana, to invoke Visa Restrictions against Member of Parliament Kennedy Agyapong pursuant to Section 212 of the US Immigration and Nationality Act.
Section 212(a)(3)(c) of the Act allows the US Government to impose Visa Restrictions against persons of members of a Foreign Government who threaten, surveil, suppress, harass or harm a Journalist.
Among other things ASEPA is also asking the US Government to extend the ban to the current Ghanaian Government and all its officials including the President until the Government resolves the Murder of Ahmed Suale, arrest and prosecute the culprits.
ASEPA is also asking for the ban popularly known as the Khashoggi ban instituted by the US Government after the murder of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi to be extended to Parliament of Ghana and it’s officials if they fail to remove Kennedy Agyapong as Chairman of the Defence and Interior Committee of Parliament.
The petition has since been filed at the US embassy in Accra this morning.
The Speaker Alban Bagbin has referred Mr Agyapong to the Privileges Committee of Parliament for his utterances against a journalist with the Multimedia Group, Erastus Asare Donkor.
Mr Agyapong on Friday, July 9, is reported to have allegedly threatened to attack Mr Asare Donkor, “for the journalistic work that the latter undertook during the recent shootings and killing incident at Ejura” on his television station.
The Multimedia Group filed a formal complaint against Mr Agyapong.
On Wednesday July 14, Tamale North MP Alhassan Suhuyini raised the issue on the floor of the house and asked the Speaker to refer the matter to the Privileges Committee.
He said “Mr Speaker, I think that as a former journalist I feel obliged to draw the House’s attention to this conduct of an Honorable colleague of this house which in my view, brings this house into disrepute.
“Mr Speaker, I urge you to exercise your powers under 27 and refer this conduct of the Honorable which is becoming unacceptable, to the Privileges Committee to ascertain the veracity of the comments that were made and recommend sanctions if possible that will act as deterrent to other members who may be tempted to act like him.”
In response to his request, the Speaker accordingly referred Mr Agyapong to the committee.
He said he cannot take a decision on Mr Agyapong over his utterances against a journalist in Ghana.
That decision to determine whether or not the conduct smacks of abuse of privileges, he said, rests with the lawmakers as a House, to take.
“As it is now, I am compelled to refer it to the Privileges Committee. I want to emphasize that it is the House that will take the decision, it is not the speaker, it is not any other person apart from the House.
“That will be your collective wisdom that come to the conclusion whether what is alleged is just a mere allegation or is supported by facts and whether those facts constitute contempt of the House and abuse of a privilege of members,
“It is important for me to emphasize here that the privilege and immunity of free speech applies in full force in plenary session and committee sessions, not when members are outside debating issues or on radio and TV. You don’t have that right, that privilege, that immunity to just say anything because you are a member of parliament.
“We are not above the law. It is for good reasons because you represent a large number of people, you should be given the full immunity to be able to say what the people say they want you to say. That is why you say it here and you are covered.
“That immunity doesn’t extend to you in anywhere else. So pleased the committee should go into the matter, submit the report.”
By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana