Parliament hails work of journalists in nation building

Mr Akwasi Konadu, the MP for Manhyia North, who presented a statement on the floor of the House to mark “International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists”, entreated the House to help in any way possible to ensure that media practitioners go about their duties without fear or favour.

This, he said, could be achieved by ensuring the safety and security of media practitioners and giving them all the necessary support to do their jobs.

He urged the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) not to relent in its pursuit of justice for all journalists who had suffered any form of injustice in their line of duties.

He also appealed to the Police to ensure that the killers of Mr Ahmed Hussein-Suale, an investigative journalist and Mr Samuel Kwanena Ennin, the Ashanti Regional Chairman of the GJA, were brought to book.

“Parliament, we also want to assure all media practitioners that we stand shoulder to shoulder with them,” Mr Konadu said.

The United Nations General Assembly in 2013 set aside November 2, as the “International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists” to condemn attacks and violence against journalists.

Contributing to the presentation, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Majority Leader, said the National Media Commission that was charged to regulate the conduct of media practitioners captured under Article 167 of the 1992 Constitution was to promote and ensure the freedom and independence of the media for mass communication or information.

To take all appropriate measures to ensure the establishment and maintenance of the highest journalistic standards in the mass media, including the investigation, mediation and settlement of complaints made against or by the press or other mass media and to insulate the state-owned media from governmental control.

“Mr, Speaker, the Media Commission, regardless of their intention, they are toothless in trying to call media practitioners who to astray to order,” Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said.

“Mr Speaker, we need the media, but the media should not otherwise assume positions that are abhorrent to our society.”

Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Minority Leader, said the Day provided journalists an opportunity to evaluate their own performance and to their contributions to Ghana’s functional democracy.

He lauded the contributions of journalists in their collective efforts for Ghana to attain the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“But Mr Speaker, as reported by the UN Secretary General, some 70 journalists have been killed this year in the course of their work and in the course of their duty of contributing to a more enlightening world,” Mr Iddrisu stated.

He said they were demanding Justice for the killing of Ahmed Husein-Suale and urged nvestigative or prosecutorial body handing the matter to discharge the responsibility with some credibility to give assurance to practicing journalists that they would not just wither away their lives in their services without support or compensation for their family.

“It is important that we celebrate and commend the Ghana Journalists Association and to urge them, what we need is the commitment of Government to continue to respect those freedoms,” he said.

He said Ghana still needed a new broadcasting law to regulate broadcasting generally.

Mr Samuel Atta Akyea, the MP for Abuakwa South, in his submission, said, as a legal practitioner, he had had to represent some people in the courts of law, who were defamed by certain media publications.

He noted that when someone’s hard won reputation was defamed through the publication of the journalist, it was difficult repairing, especially when it was carried on the internet.

“In trying to fly your story to make some money, be careful of the reputation of others, because money cannot buy the reputation of someone,” Mr Atta Akyea said.

Dr Abdul-Rashid Hassan Pelpuo, MP for Wa Central, urged Ghanaians to hold journalists in high esteem and not to look at them with disrespect.

He said Ghana was seen as an oasis of peace in the subregion, and that Ghanaians should ensure to handle journalists with pride; saying that journalists would be comfortable in doing their jobs, and that Ghana could be a source of inspiration for other nations.