The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has called for an end to the impunity against Ghanaian journalists.
A statement signed by Mr Affail Monney, GJA, President, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, said as the world observes the United Nations (UN) International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, UN human rights experts were calling on states to take firm steps to end violence and attacks against journalists.
“The GJA endorses this clarion call and urges the Government to take urgent steps to halt the current spate of violence and attacks against journalists and the media,” it said.
“Ghana currently occupies the first and 23rd positions in Africa and the world, respectively, on the World Press Freedom Index (WPFI).”
It noted that, however, the sheer number and severity of violence and attacks against journalists and media establishments in recent periods were a far cry of the country’s rather impressive position on the WPFI
It said as the world observes the UN International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the GJA reaffirms its solidarity with, and support for, all Ghanaian journalists who had been attacked in their line of duty in recent times.
“We demand from the government a swift response to bring the culprits to book and stop the impunity,” it said.
The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists is a UN-recognized day observed annually on 2 November.
The day draws attention to the low global conviction rate for violent crimes against journalists and media workers, estimated at only one in every ten cases. As these individuals play a critical role in informing and influencing the public about important social issues, impunity for attacks against them has a particularly damaging impact, limiting public awareness and constructive debate.
“The GJA calls on the two other arms of government – Legislature and Judiciary, to act decisively to reverse the impunity against the Fourth Estate of the Realm, which is one of the pillars of democratic governance.”
The statement said in that regard, and while applauding Parliament for condemning the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the GJA urged Parliament not to lose sight of the murderous attacks against journalists in Ghana for condemnation.
“We also call on the Judiciary to hand down the severest punishment to the perpetrators of crimes against journalists whenever they are brought to face the law,” it said.
It noted that while awaiting the response of state actors to reverse the current trend of attacks against journalists, the GJA has been compelled to invoke one of its biggest weapons in self-defense to halt the impunity.
“Consequently, we shall, henceforth, call for a blackout on anybody, whether individual or corporate, that assaults a journalist in the line of duty until the perpetrator(s) is/are found and punished,” it said.
“Also, we shall continue to provide legal support to seek justice for journalists who fall victim to such impunity. Furthermore, we shall explore all avenues of engagement with stakeholders with the view to underlining the importance of the media in democratic governance and the need to avoid violence against journalists,” it stated.
It noted that the GJA would, in due course, announce other actions to deal with the impunity of crimes against journalists and the media.