The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has called for more stringent action against individuals responsible for attacks on journalists.
That will not only protect the individual’s right to freedom of expression as enshrined in the Constutition but it would also help enhance press freedom in the country, which is key to democracy.
He thus called for swift and decisive justice, regardless of the culprits’ social status or political affiliation to deal with the incidents of attacks on journalists which were on the rise.
“We must condemn any form of violence against journalists and take concrete steps to provide them with the necessary protection and support,” the minister said, urging judges to expedite severe penalties on culprits to serve as a deterrent.
The minister was addressing the opening ceremony of a training workshop for judges held in Accra yesterday.
The workshop focused on the critical importance of safeguarding freedom of expression and ensuring the safety of journalists.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah said freedom of expression was the cornerstone of every democratic society, and that since press freedom was strongly linked with freedom of expression, attacking journalists meant attacking democracy itself.
He said it was therefore, important to create an environment where journalists could carry out their work without fear of violence or intimidation.
“Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of every democratic society; it is a fundamental right that must be protected and upheld.
We cannot, however discuss freedom of expression without press freedom and recognising the important role journalists play in our society.
The minister stated that in line with creating a conducive and safe environment for journalists, the government, through the Ministry of Information, has initiated several programmes aimed at supporting the media.
He said one key initiative was the inauguration of the Office of the Coordinated Mechanism on the Safety of Journalists (CMSJ) under the National Media Commission (NMC).
This office, Mr Oppong Nkrumah explained, operated with a framework designed for use by all stakeholders to create a secure environment for journalism practice, prevent violence against journalists, protect those in danger, and prosecute perpetrators of violence.
Also, through its media capacity enhancement programme (MCEP), the ministry is actively providing training for 250 journalists on emerging issues in journalism to help bolster the sector which was facing a plethora of challenges in recent times.
Additionally, the minister indicated that the full rollout of the Right to Information (RTI) Law had seen the training and deployment of RTI officers in nearly 600 government offices nationwide, with the RTI Commission playing a crucial role in ensuring compliance with the RTI Act.