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Journalists are on the run in Akufo-Addo's gov't - Minority

By Wendy Amarteifio
Akufo-Addo
Journalists are on the run in Akufo-Addo's gov't -Minority

The Minority in Parliament says Journalists in the country, such as Manasseh Azure and Edward Adeti are on the run for their lives due to threats on stories critical to the Akufo-Addo's government.

According to the minority, Ghana has dropped on the world freedom index due to the assassination of Ahmed Hussein-Suale after his identity was exposed by an NPP member and has led to the increasing cases of attacks on journalists in the country.

The minority in a statement released to declare its full support for the “March for Free Expression” which is being organized by Free Media Vanguards (FMV) and its allies in Accra on Tuesday the 21st of May, 2019, pointed out that :

''The unresolved assassination of Ahmed Hussein-Suale after an NPP MP exposed his identity and the increasing cases of attacks on journalists which all culminated in Ghana losing its number one place as the freest country for the media in Africa and dropping on the World Press Freedom Index requires that all well-meaning Ghanaians rise up to demand an end to this creeping dictatorship''.

This follows the Free Media Vanguards’ protest of the closure of some radio stations in the country by the National Communications Authority (NCA). 

 The group plans to march in protest tomorrow, Tuesday over what it described as the NCA’s abuse of its powers and suppression of press freedom.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Minority in Parliament pledges its full support for Tuesday’s March and announces its decision to participate in this all-important march which seeks to confront and defeat the cowardly forces of oppression and tyranny,” the Minority said in a statement.

Two major pro-opposition stations, Radio Gold and Radio XYZ were the first set of stations closed down for breaching Electronic Communications Regulations.

This has led to complaints that the NCA action was politically motivated ahead of the 2020 general election.

It also condemned the closure of the stations and described it as crude, selective and “reminiscent of how brutal dictators operate.”

The Minority held that the state action “has created a climate of fear, impunity and arbitrariness” hence the need for “an unwavering and formidable resistance from all those who believe in true democracy and constitutionalism.”

Background to the closure of Radio Gold and XYZ

A statement issued by the NCA on May 9, 2019, said the closures were carried out in line with Regulations 65 (1) of the Electronic Communications Regulations, 2011, L. I. 1991, which states that “a person shall not use a radio frequency without authorisation from the Authority.”

The NCA referenced a 2018 ruling by the Electronic Communications Tribunal on the status of FM stations with expired authorisation saying companies whose authorisations had expired reverted to the same position as fresh applicants.

It added that the applications were to through the required procedure for new FM Broadcasting Authorisation.

Find below the full statement

MINORITY DECLARES SUPPORT AND ANNOUNCES PARTICIPATION IN TUESDAY’S MARCH FOR FREE EXPRESSION

The Minority in Parliament wishes to declare its full support for the “March for Free Expression” which is being organized by Free Media Vanguards (FMV) and its allies in Accra on Tuesday the 21st of May, 2019.

The Minority is of the firm conviction that the current fascist tendencies of the Akufo-Addo government which has created a climate of fear, impunity and arbitrariness require an unwavering and formidable resistance from all those who believe in true democracy and constitutionalism.

We reiterate our absolute condemnation of the coordinated and simultaneous May 9, 2019 Gestapo-style raid of Radio Gold and Radio XYZ led by state security operatives armed to the teeth at a time both stations were broadcasting live a press conference by the NDC Council of Elders to protest the intimidation and harassment of our National Chairman, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo.

The Minority also notes that nowhere in the June 18, 2018 decision of the Electronic Communications Tribunal in the case of Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (suing for and on behalf of Mascott Multimedia Ltd & 8 others) versus National Communications Authority presided over by the venerable Prof. Date-Bah JSC (retired) was such an action recommended contrary to the dubious claims of the National Communications Authority (NCA) which, in fact, was rather the losing party.

The Minority, similarly, denounces the crude and selective closure of other radio stations across the country in conduct reminiscent of how brutal dictators operate.

We shall like to point out that the fundamental human rights of free speech and the freedom and independence of the media as guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution of Ghana must be safeguarded and we in the Minority will join progressive forces to ensure that this sinister but determined erosion of our constitutional rights by the Akufo-Addo administration is defeated.

The Minority decries the current situation where journalists such as Manasseh Azuri Awuni and Edward Adeti are on the run due to threats on their lives just because they did stories critical of the Akufo-Addo Government. The unresolved assassination of Ahmed Hussein-Suale after an NPP MP exposed his identity and the increasing cases of attacks on journalists which all culminated in Ghana losing its number one place as the freest country for the media in Africa and dropping on the World Press Freedom Index requires that all well-meaning Ghanaians rise up to demand an end to this creeping dictatorship.

We are shocked that under a President who styles himself as a human rights champion and one who appeared before our courts in Republic versus Independent Media Corporation of Ghana and Others [1996-97] SCGLR 258 and New Patriotic Party versus Ghana Broadcasting Corporation [1993-94] 2 GLR 354-393 where he argued in a sharp contrast against the very things he and his political appointees at the NCA are currently and unabashedly engaged in.

May we afford this opportunity to commend all those including the Ghana Journalists Association, Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association and the Media Foundation for West Africa who have boldly and roundly condemned the orchestrated attacks on media freedom.

For the avoidance of doubt, the Minority in Parliament pledges its full support for Tuesday’s March and announces its decision to participate in this all important march which seeks to confront and defeat the cowardly forces of oppression and tyranny.

It is our expectation that many more Ghanaians will stand up to be counted in this defining moment of history.

Signed,
Hon. Haruna Iddrisu (MP)
Minority Leader in Parliament.

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