The Judicial Service has fought off claims by the President of the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) of threatening the media fraternity.
The Service, in a statement, has demanded that all stories deemed “hateful, and incendiary” against Justices of the Supreme Court be pulled down from their online platforms, especially, those hearing the election petition.
“It is true that the statement calls on the media to pull down “incendiary and spiteful publications, immediately”.
But should such statements not be pulled down? Have so many institutions, platforms and people not been blocked from various platforms including twitter and Facebook for publishing offensive statements?
“And is the GJA saying such “hateful, spiteful, vengeful and incendiary communication against Justices of the Service is permissible? Did Dr Monney say such statements should not be pulled down?
“This will conflict clearly with the GJA’s own admission that journalism should be carried out within the confines of the law which certainly prohibits such statements against members of the Judiciary,” the statement bemoaned.
A move which according to GJA, is an indirect way of gagging the press in the country which is against press freedom clearly spelt out in the 1992 constitution.
“The GJA is plainly of the view that the threats by the Judicial Service against the media defy logic and are tantamount to an unwarranted assault on all the tenets of freedom of speech and freedom of the media as guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution,” the statement said.
However, the Judicial Service through its senior lead counsel, Thaddeus Sory in a response has described the statement as misleading.
“The statement issued on behalf of the Judiciary dealt with “incendiary, hateful and offensive statements against members of the Judiciary.
“This being the heading, how did the GJA reach the conclusion on its heading, that the demand contained in the statement had to do with “threats against the media?” the response quizzed.
The service in parts of the statement added it was appalled by the posturing and lack of appreciation of the issues by the GJA as it maintained its statement acknowledged free speech.
“I say that the heading is misleading to a point of embarrassment because, the statement issued by the Judiciary, acknowledges the right to free speech in so many paragraphs.
“Reference is made particularly to paragraphs 9 and 10 of the statement issued on behalf of the Judiciary,” the statement said.
“A reading of the whole statement issued by the Judiciary will reveal no threat. As for cautioning that media institutions should avoid permitting their platforms to be deployed in a manner that not only threatens our constitutional order and democracy but obviously, adversely interferes with the due administration of justice and also, brings it, into disrepute” it is a general statement which all journalists are taught.
“Why then are journalists threatened by a statement of a position they know and must expect in the circumstances clearly stated,” the statement stressed.