Restrictions on filming must be grounded in law – Samson Anyenini

Private legal practitioner Samson Lardy Anyenini has stated that Ghana’s courts have recently ruled that journalists should use straightforward means to obtain information to feed the public.

However, he said, where journalists are being frustrated, they are allowed to use other means to obtain the facts that are in the public’s interest.

The reigning journalist of the year said these in an interview with TV3’s Komla Adom on the Mid day news Wednesday May 12 regarding persons who are asking why the Citi FM journalist Caleb Kudah went filming at a security zone, a situation that led to his arrest.

He said “Our laws say nothing is a crime or nothing is an offence unless it has been prescribed in law and the punishment for it has been so defined in written law. So, if you say you have written somewhere on your wall that this place is a security zone , you don’t take photographs, you must show me which law gives you the power to say what you are saying. If you don’t show me a law I am not under any obligation to obey it.

‘I am not saying that the journalists can go and walk into any meeting and begin to record it without permission.

“Our laws and courts have ruled in recent times that journalists should use straight forward means to secure the information they will need. But where they are being frustrated the use of the straightforward means they are allowed to use other means to procure the information which is for the public interest.”

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For his part, the Executive Secretary of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Mr Sulemana Braimah, said the management of Citi FM owe the public an explanation into what their reporter, Caleb Kudah, was actually doing at the premises of the National Security which led to his arrest on Tuesday May 11.

Mr Braimah who described the arrest of the journalist as needless also Komla Adom that the public deserves to know the real reasons behind Calab’s presence at the premises of the security installation.

“I think [arrest] was an act that was unnecessary. Whatever infractions the police thought the journalist had committed, the remedial action that was intended could have been sought without the raid that was conducted.

“The other part is on the management of Citi FM, Citi TV. They owe the public some explanation in terms of what exactly was the journalist doing.

“I have just read something on their platform and they talk about the journalist had gone to film abandoned cars. What is the genesis to this? Is it the case that the journalist was just passing by and saw the cars, they looked beautiful and he decided to film or there is a story behind what the journalist had done?

“To leave and it and people are talking about it as though, as a journalist, didn’t he know it is a security zone? Didn’t he know it is a restricted area?

“For me, somehow it is a betrayal of the journalists. I think Citi FM should explain to the public that the journalist was following a particular story because I know Caleb had earlier done a story abandoned MASLOC vehicles. Is it the same vehicles we are talking about? In fact when that story was done there was a denial to say that what the journalist had done had put out a fake story. Subsequently, if me memory serves right, the story was taken down.

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“So is it the same story we are talking about? No journalist will be happy if they do a story they know it is true and based on some pressures from elsewhere the story is  then taken down to create the impression they had done some false publication.

“Is it the case that the journalist was trying to affirm whatever he has said earlier which was discounted.

“If it is the case, is it something the Citi FM endorses or is it the case that that the journalist went out there to do his independent thing , we only have a concern about the way and manner the Police raided our place. Other than that the journalist was not doing anything journalistic. It is important that we get to know the fact.”

The General Manager of Citi FM, Mr Bernard Avle however explained also in interview with Komla Adom the reasons behind Caleb presence at the national security premises.

He said “We know now that he had gone to film some vehicles parked beyond the car park of the building. There are two buildings in that place, the Ministry and the National security building then there is car park. Then there is a shed across the car park across some abandoned vehicles.

“So, now we know he was filming some of the abandoned vehicles and running some commentaries. We know that in the past he has done a couple of reports on social media on abandoned vehicles so he had gone to get more information on those cars.”

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He added “Whether he was assigned or not, a journalist work is not only when an editor has assigned the journalist. If you are a journalist you can be driving and see something and want to do a story.”

He further stated that the management is still gathering information about whey the Police raided their office.

“We are engaging with the authorities involved to try and get a full sense of why they did what they did, why they used the kind of force they did, so it is still early days yet. The more information we have then we will now specifically what actions to take.”

By Laud Nartey||Ghana