In a press release, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has called on a swift action against a soldier who brutally assaulted a journalist works for TV3. The incidence which happened while the reporter was covering a story about a cleanup exercise within Tema, a suburb of Accra has been highly condemned by the GJA president, Mr Affail Monney.
In the press release, the GJA announced:
The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has received with utter shock and intractable concern reports of brutalities meted out by a soldier to a TV3 cameraman, Stanley Nii Blewu, who had gone to Tema Station in Accra Central to do a story on the state of sanitation there. This followed the pronouncement by the Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Hon. Cecilia Dapaah that the government had achieved 85 percent of its target of making the capital the cleanest city in Africa.
According to the reports, the soldier asked a police officer to arrest the TV3 crew for taking shots of a clean-up exercise on Wednesday. The policeman reportedly declined and pointedly told the soldier that the cameraman had not committed any crime for filming the clean-up in a public space. This infuriated the soldier who then instructed other security personnel and city guards to surround the cameraman for refusing to surrender his phone and camera. In the words of Stanley Blewu, the soldier “kicked my abdomen and left thigh multiple times, hit my right hand with heavy blows several times until my phone fell off and he grabbed it.”
The cameraman followed the soldier to the AMA headquarters to retrieve his phone and damaged camera, only to see the soldier busily deleting all the shots. The soldier brazenly assaulted the cameraman the more, with “three strong kicks in the abdomen”. That was at the reception hall of the AMA headquarters. In a move to save his life, the cameraman, was rushed to the PRO’s office where the soldier again inflicted “heavy blows” on Stanley Blewu’s neck. He reportedly left the AMA office with a swollen arm and excruciating pains all over his body.
The GJA views the flurry of brutish attacks on the TV3 cameraman as a barbaric infringement on press freedom guaranteed under the 1992 Constitution. The display of naked impunity and unwarranted attacks on journalists, especially in their line of duty, are also a dent on Ghana’s image as a flourishing democracy that highly respects media freedom. The same factors account for the country’s slide down on the World Press Freedom Index.
As the December 7 elections inexorably approach, the international community in general and human rights groups in particular have understandably sharpened their focus on Ghana. The most decisive and effectual move to salvage the country’s luminous image is for the military authorities to launch an immediate investigation into the unrestrained attacks on the TV3 cameraman and deal with the soldier squarely, if he is found guilty
It is needless to emphasize that Ghana has come too far to backslide in her democratic strides, respect for human rights and practice of media freedom. Any act which tends to undermine these strides and soil our image should, therefore, be discouraged or punished to the fullest extent permissible within the law.