Seizure of journalists’ phones in court likely to undermine democracy – GJA

Roland Affail Monney is the President of the Ghana Journalists Association[/caption] The Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) says it has observed with grave concern a case where mobile phones of journalists were seized at the District Court 8 in Accra on the orders of Her Worship Efua Sackey. On Tuesday July 19, Madam Efua Sackey ordered the Court Warrant Officer (CWO) to seize the mobile phones of journalists covering the case of the Republic vrs Dominic Obeng Andoh of Obengfo Hospital in her court. The reason for her action was to prevent journalists from recording proceedings in court. Read: Judge seizes phones of journalists The Association is worried the “act has the tendency to undermine the country’s fledgling democracy and development”. It is particularly worried because, “On several occasions, Her Majesty was reported to have subjected journalists to all sorts of restrictions in her court.” More so, the association finds it hard to understand why the Magistrate was selective in having only journalists’ phones seized and not everyone in the court room as is the practice. A statement from the GJA reads,

We find the action of Her Worship very strange, one that deviates from the norm of asking all visitors in court, not only journalists, to put their mobile phones either off or on silence. In a technologically savvy society such as ours, it is possible for anybody in court to record proceedings against the rules of court, and even leaks same in both traditional and social media. So for Her Worship to single out journalists for restriction by impounding their mobile phones, leaving intact the liberty of other visitors in court to possess their mobile phones, belies her concern to prevent recording of proceedings. Otherwise, her order would have been far-reaching to include all visitors in court.GJA
The Association touts the Judicial Press Corps as one of the finest groups of journalists in the country which has undergone training programmes “to enhance their knowledge about, and reportage of, court proceedings and related issues”. The GJA is therefore calling on the “Chief Justice to call her to order in order not to undermine the cordial relations between the Judicial Service and the media.”
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