Ghana President appeals for end of violence against journalists

Accra, Ghana (PANA) - Ghana's President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Wednesday night appealed to world leaders to make a conscious effort to end all forms of State-sponsored attacks on journalists.

Delivering an address at the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Prize Ceremony of the World Press Freedom Day 2018 in Accra he condemned all forms of attacks on journalists while in their line of duty.

He said that any forms of violence against journalists cannot and should not be countenanced in the world.

“I use this opportunity to call on all governments the world over to put an end to State-sponsored acts that seek to restrict the practice of journalism. When supported, the free press has the potential to quicken the development of society. Indeed, democracy has no place for a media that does not keep a government on its toes,” the President said.

President Akufo-Addo identified some emerging challenges to press freedom especially in the era of social media, saying that “the risk of deliberate misinformation campaigns by some elements in the democratic space and the risk of inadvertent misinformation by media practitioners often in their desire to be first with the news” should be addressed.

Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, known as Shawkan, who was selected by an independent international jury of media professionals as the laureate of the 2018 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize, was given his award in absentia.

Abu Zeid has been in jail since 14 August 2013 when he was arrested while covering a demonstration at Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square in Cairo. In early 2017, the prosecutor in his case reportedly called for the death penalty.

President Akufo Addo said the world has not forgotten him and urged all individuals and institutions fighting for his release not to lose hope in their fight.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions has qualified his arrest and detention as arbitrary and contrary to the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

He received US$25,000. The Prize is funded by the Guillermo Cano Isaza Foundation, Colombia, the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation, Finland and The Namibia Media Trust.

The 2018 World Press Freedom Day is jointly organized by UNESCO and the Government of Ghana on the theme ‘Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law’.

The Deputy Director-General, United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Getachew Engida, said crime against journalists should not go unpunished in order to guarantee their better protection,

He said UNESCO's records showed that more than 800 journalists were killed in the last decade and nine out of 10 killings went unpunished.

He said every time a journalist was killed, UNESCO called for justice.

“Therefore, UNESCO, the implementer of the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, believes that this plan provides a roadmap on how to improve the safety of journalists.”

“In order to guarantee better protection for journalists, UNESCO encourages the setup of national mechanisms for the safety of journalists,” he added.

He said it was only when journalists could report without fear for their lives and citizens could access information to make informed decisions, that democracy and development would thrive.

To eliminate the fear factor, which leads to self-censorship and silencing of societies, Mr Engida said courts needed to protect journalists against attacks online and offline and demonstrate the power of the rule of law to turn back impunity for crimes against journalists.
-0- PANA MA 3May2018

03 may 2018 09:32:37




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