General News

Akufo-Addo told to stop criminalizing speech and protect journalists

Former President John Dramani Mahama has written an open letter to President Nana Akufo-Addo in which he describes as appalling, the criminalization of free speech and journalism in Ghana, in this 21st century.

The former president expressed concern about the ongoing attacks on journalists and media outlets under President Akufo-Addo’s, with the power of the state being used as a pliant tool to intimidate people.

“In a space of less than two weeks, four people have suffered police action, criminalizing their right to free speech. As Attorney General, at the time, who led the repeal of the criminal libel law, in order that citizens could freely express their views, it is unconscionable to be suppressing the rights and criminalizing the speech of citizens and journalists. It is even more worrying when the power of the state is used as a pliant tool in this intimidating endeavour”, the letter said.

According to Mr. Mahama, the arrests and other lawless attacks on journalists and media outlets, are dangerous blueprints President Akufo-Addo is modelling and should not be encouraged in the country.

Mr. Mahama recalled how Captain Smart, a radio and TV presenter, was dragged from court and, despite being granted bail, was detained, while another radio presenter, Oheneba Boamah Bennie, was imprisoned for allegedly making statements against President Akufo-Addo.

Mr. Mahama believes that several disturbing incidents of harassment of journalists in the course of their duties, as well as the closure of media establishments on the president’s orders, despite numerous appeals to him, have completely discredited his self-acquired reputation as a human rights lawyer and activist.

He urged the president to stop oppressing the people.
“President Akufo-Addo, you cannot continue to oppress the people, criminalize speech when these matters are essentially civil in nature, if you feel offended by them.”

The former president also bemoaned the silence of the Ghana Journalists Association and the clergy.
“It is even more sad that the Journalists Association and its senior members, many of our clergy and other moral leaders, scared because of the oppressive and dictatorial regime you are running, have remained quiet in the face of this disturbing development in our maturing democracy”.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mahama has implored President Akufo-Addo to take immediate action to end the harassment and intimidation of journalists and media organizations in the country.

“I fear that if you do not take immediate action to arrest this unfortunate trend, when you exit the high office of President in January 2025, freedom of speech and a free media will certainly not be counted as part of the legacy you leave behind.”

The murder of investigative journalist Ahmed Suale on Wednesday, January 16, 2019, by unknown assailants remains unsolved. Ghanaians and the international community have called for justice, but the government has so far been unable or unwilling to act. The police, according to President Mahama, have equally shelved the investigations into the brutal murder of the Tiger Eye Investigative journalist.

Share on:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *