‘Amend Laws Against Journalists’

Albert Kwabena Dwumfour

The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) President, Albert Kwabena Dwumfour, has called for the amendment of some provisions of the Electronic Communications Act (Act 775) and Section 208 of the Criminal and Other Offences Act 1960, Act 29.

According to the GJA president, Section 208 of the Criminal and Other Offences Act 1960, Act 29 which states that “a person who publishes a report which is likely to cause fear and alarm to the public or to disturb the public peace knowing or having reason to believe that the statement, rumour or report is false commits a misdemeanour,” has caused a number of journalists to serve severe punishments for minor offences.

He also added that the Electronic Communications Act (Act 775) Section 76 which reads, “a  person who by means of electronic communications service, knowingly sends a communication which is false or misleading and likely to endanger the safety of any person, ship, aircraft, vessel or vehicle commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than three thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years or both,” is a potential gag on the mouthpiece of journalists.

“As critical stakeholders in the media industry, we cannot remain unconcerned as these laws are used to arrest citizens and journalists and prefer criminal charges over civil remedies for speech offences that are merely defamatory. The arbitrary application of these laws, only serve to instill fear in the general populace,” he stated.

He shared this at the celebration of World Press Freedom Day at the Ghana International Press Centre under the theme, “Freedom of Expression: A Driver for All Other Human Rights for Ghana’s Development.”

In a speech read on his behalf, Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, urged the media to concentrate on efforts being made by the government to restore the economic rights of citizens, especially following the recent global challenges so as inform and empower citizens.

“Programmes by state and non-state actors to support the Ghanaian people in building back faster after the recent economic challenges should be given deeper attention. We further encourage the media to give more media mileage to content that empowers citizens to fully enjoy their economic rights,” he said.

Chairperson at the event, Gifty Afenyi-Dadzie, called on the media to protect the peace of the country as the election year approaches.

“The heat is already building up towards the 2024 elections, the peace of our dear nation needs to be safeguarded and one of the surest ways to plunge the country into chaos is through inflammatory language. The media should play its gate keeping role well so that decency shall become paramount in the conduct of people that seeks the mandate of the electorate,” she shared.

UN Resident Coordinator, Charles Abani also encouraged the media to champion the freedom of expression as it aids in the preservation of democratic states.

By Abigail Atinuke Seyram Adeyemi