Ghana: Security Forces Harass Journalists, Seize Reporting Equipment
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has noticed with concern the increasing acts of violations perpetrated against journalists in their line of duty.
Even before the end of the first quarter of 2014, the MFWA's freedom of expression and safety of journalists monitoring shows that four cases of press freedom violations have been committed by some members of the security agencies.
On April 11, 2014, Ebenezer Kwame Abaka, a Western Regional Correspondent for TV3 (a privately-owned television station) was heckled by a military man and his camera was seized at an event he was invited to.
The journalist had gone to cover the passing out parade of some recruits of the Ghana Air Force at the Air Force Base of the Western Regional Capital, Takoradi.
According to him, because he was in a hurry, he forgot to take along his professional identification (ID) card. While filming the event, a military man approached the journalist and asked him to produce his identity card.
When he failed to produce it, the military man heckled him and took his camera from him. Even though Abaka was able to retrieve his camera shortly after that, he had to leave the event due to the embarrassment he suffered.
Another journalist Muftaw Mohammed, of privately-owned Metro FM - a radio station in the Ashanti regional capital of Kumasi - was on April 3 arrested and detained for taking pictures of some personnel from the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) of the Ghanaian Police Force, allegedly taking money from commercial drivers. Mohammed was held by the police and his iPad was seized.
After two hours, the pictures he had taken of the MTTU officers on his iPad were deleted before he was released.
Earlier on March 10, Geoffrey Buta, a photographer of the state-owned newspaper The Ghanaian Times was also assaulted by a military man in Tamale, in the Northern Region of Ghana.
Again, a crew of privately-owned TV Africa was on March 7 detained by some security personnel at Adjei Kojo, a suburb of Accra. The crew had gone to the area to do a follow-up on a demolition exercise that was undertaken in the area.
The MFWA is concerned about the seeming lack of tolerance on the part of some section of the security agencies in Ghana towards journalists when they are discharging their professional duties.
We call on the security agencies to recognise the important role the media plays in the democratic development of the country and accord them the necessary support and respect they deserve.
Sources: Media Foundation for West Africa - nternational Freedom of Expression Exchange Clearing House (Toronto) 29 APRIL 2014