The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), the Private Newspaper Printers Association of Ghana (PRINPAG), and the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), have called on government to take urgent steps to remove persons with brutish tendencies from the country’s National Security setup.
The three Associations said this in a joint statement while demanding that government restructures the National Security Ministry in the wake of growing incidents of abuse and torture of journalists by some of its officers.
They said the restructuring must involve reorienting the minds of the operatives and putting in place proper mechanisms for recruitment of qualified persons into the National Security.
“We are of the view that, the time has come for the government to restructure the Ministry of National Security, re-orient the minds of these operatives, and to institute professional recruitment policies to ensure that the Ministry recruits the right calibre of professionals who will be entrusted with the intelligence mandate of the Ministry,” the joint statement said.
The Associations said they are concerned about the impunity with which security personnel attack media practitioners in their line of duty, and has condemned the National Security operatives for the “unwarranted use of force and intimidatory a tactics against the Citi FM journalists.”
Operatives of the National Security last Tuesday arrested and assaulted Citi FM‘s Caleb Kudah after they found him filming abandoned state-funded vehicles near its offices.
The operatives subsequently besieged Citi FM to arrest another journalist, Zoe Abu-Baidoo Addo who received the materials captured by Caleb via her phone.
PRINPAG, GJA and GIBA further condemned the invasion of the Citi FM’s premises by the National Security operatives and the seizure and deletion of materials from the gadgets.
”It is the view of the leadership of the three media groups that, the handlers of Ghana’s national security institute measures to weed out of the security agencies, undesired elements with barbaric and brutish tendencies, whose conduct always creates needless tension between poor civilians and the operatives of Ghana’s national security,” the added in their statement.
Read the full statement below:
The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), Private Newspaper Printers Association of Ghana (PRINPAG) and Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) have taken note of the spate of brutalities being meted out to journalists such as those working with Luv FM, Whatsapp News and the most recent case of the one involving journalists working with Citi FM/Citi TV.
The media is an indispensable partner in the development of the country as well as the consolidation of democracy while holding government to account. Any attempt to cower them to stay away from carrying out these duties, should be condemned in no uncertain terms.
We are of the view that, the time has come for the government to restructure the Ministry of National Security, re-orient the minds of these operatives, and to institute professional recruitment policies to ensure that the Ministry recruits the right calibre of professionals who will be entrusted with the intelligence mandate of the Ministry.
GIBA, PRINPAG and the GJA do not intend to prejudge the outcomes of any findings from any inquest to be instituted into the molestation of the Citi FM/Citi TV journalists by national security operatives. We believe in and support the work of investigative journalists in Ghana in highlighting matters of public interest. We draw attention to the impunity with which security personnel in Ghana attack media practitioners in the course of exercising their legitimate duties and condemn in no uncertain terms, the approach of the National Security operatives in the unwarranted use of force and intimidatory tactics against the Citi FM journalists even if the actions of the journalist in question, raises concerns for the security services.
The continuous invasion of media houses by national security operatives must stop. We condemn the seizure and deletion of journalistic and any other material on any recording device without court orders. We demand an immediate and unqualified apology from the National Security Secretariat to the Management and staff of Citi FM/TV and to the entire media for the havoc, panic and trauma caused them. We recommend an independent inquiry to establish and recommend punishment for anybody found culpable in this incident.
GIBA, PRINPAG and the GJA, and indeed, the entire media in Ghana are ready to partner with the security agencies to advance the course of the country and its development. But for this collaboration to be effective, it is important for the security agencies to be oriented on the intricacies in the practice of the journalism profession, one of which is to employ in some cases, subterfuge and unorthodox means of gathering information, if same is in the supreme national interest. For this collaboration to be effective in the national interest, we expect members of the two institutions to treat one another with mutual respect and decorum. We therefore recommend an immediate roundtable discussion between the top hierarchy of the security agencies, media organisations, CSOs involved with media and the National Media Commission (NMC).
It is the view of the leadership of the three media groups that, the handlers of Ghana’s national security institute measures to weed out of the security agencies, undesired elements with barbaric and brutish tendencies, whose conduct always creates needless tension between poor civilians and the operatives of Ghana’s national security.
The findings and recommendations from the Committee of Enquiry set up by the Ministry of National Security and the Complaints Settlement Committee of the National Media Commission should be implemented with utmost urgency to give meaning to our maxim as a land of freedom and justice.
Thank you for your kind attention.
May God help our nation Ghana and make us great and strong.