Charges against UTV invaders woefully minimal – GJA, PRINPAG, GIBA

Charges against UTV invaders woefully minimal – GJA, PRINPAG, GIBA

Mr Dwumfuor briefing the press Photo Victor A. Buxton

 Leadership of three media unions have described as woefully mini­mal, charges imposed on individ­uals that invaded the studios of UTV to disrupt its late night entertain­ment show, Universal Showbiz.

The unions include the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) and the Private Newspaper and Online News Publish­ers Association of Ghana (PRINPAG).

The individuals were convicted and fined GH¢2,400 each for con­spiracy to commit crime and rioting by an Achimota Magistrate Court on Tuesday.

Addressing a joint press con­ference in Accra on Wednesday in reaction to the punishment, the three unions said the charge was not enough to serve as deterrent to people who attack journalists.

Led by the President of the GJA, Mr Albert Dwumfour said the charges were minimal and soft-handed.

According to the GJA President, the charge of conspiracy to commit crime and rioting, which formed the basis for the imposition of the fine on the suspects by the court, was not far-reaching and thorough enough.

He doubted why charges including unlawful entry, rioting, rioting with weapons, assault and battery, caus­ing harm and threat of harm were not preferred against them.

That, he said could result in the imposition of stiffer punishments and deter others from attacking journal­ists.

He appealed to the judiciary to consider offences against the media as aggravating with the tendency to put fear in the media, leading to self-censorship and promotion of culture of silence.

The associations, Mr Dwumfour stated, would consider supporting the affected members to either urge the prosecution to consider appeal­ing against the sentence or criticise the decision of the court.

While condemning the recent at­tack on the Citi TV/FM journalist by supporters of the National Democrat­ic Congress (NDC) in the Odododio­doo constituency, he called on the police to act swiftly and arrest the culprits to ensure they face the law.

The GIBA President, Mr Cecil Thomas Sunkwa-Mills, also called on media organisations to provide appropriate protective gears to jour­nalists in order to guard their safety in line of duty.

According to Mr Sunkua-Mills, protective gears such as helmets, bulletproof vests, gas masks, or first aid kits would protect their staff and

 ensure they were free from attacks especially heading into the general elections in 2024.

Mr Sunkwa-Mills indicated that, journalists must also take their per­sonal security into their own hands and stay away from danger while carrying out their assignments.

“Let us focus on in-house safety. It is important to take personal respon­sibility by using appropriate gears,” he stated.

He also asked journalists to report threats and harassment to their organisation, police, local authorities and relevant press freedom organisa­tions.

The Acting (Ag) Executive Secre­tary for PRINPAG, Mr Jeorge Wilson Kingson, said the fine was small and fell short of serving its intended purpose of deterring miscreants from repeating such acts.

PRINPAG, he noted, was commit­ted to the protection of journalists and the safeguarding of media free­dom in Ghana, adding that “we stand united in our resolve to promote a society that respects and upholds the rights of media personnel

By Michael D. Abayateye

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