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PRINPAG condemns arrest, detention of its VP

The Private Newspaper and Online Publishers Association (PRINPAG) has condemned the arrest and detention of its  Vice-President, David Tamakloe, who is also the Managing Editor of  an online newspaper, Whatsup News yesterday.

A statement issued by PRINPAG and signed by its President, Andrew Edwin Arthur described the actions of the police as “the unconstitutional act of intimidating the journalist and by extension, all journalists in the country.” 

PRINPAG also said that such issues should have been handled by the National Media Commission (NMC) because it possesses “which has a complaints and settlement mechanism” to handle them.

Parts of the statement read: “PRINPAG is of the view that, the arrest and detention of its Vice President infringed his constitutional right as a journalist, who by his profession, has the mandate and the duty to bring the concerns of all segments of the population to the attention of the powers that be, for redress.

“We are also of the opinion that, such complaints against journalists could best be handled by the National Media Commission (NMC), which has a complaints and settlement mechanism that could have been resorted to by the complainant and the police as well to help address the issues at stake,” it added.

The statement therefore condemned the arrest and detention of Mr Tamakloe, adding that, Ghana;s press freedom must not be tampered with by such unconventional means.

“While condemning the arrest and detention of Mr. Tamakloe, the leadership of PRINPAG is reminding the police, especially and the general public that, this and other equally unconventional means of arrests of journalists for doing their work, go a long way to negatively affect Ghana’s press freedom ratings and also intimidate media practitioners to compromise their role as members of the fourth estate of the realm and as the watchdogs of society,” the statement further noted.

The editor of Whatsup News was arrested by the Tesano police on Wednesday afternoon.

He was then moved to New Edubiase in the Ashanti Region later in the evening.

Mr Tamakloe was said to have filed a report that alleged that Ewes and various citizens from northern Ghana living in New Edubiase were being intimidated by supporters of the incumbent New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Mr Tamakloe was brought before court today Thursday, 8 October 2020.

He granted bail to the tune of GHS10, 000 with two sureties by the New Edubiase Magistrate Court in the Ashanti Region today. He was also slapped with two counts of publishing false news.

“I wasn’t manhandled but was put in handcuffs from Accra all the way to the Ashanti Region over the coverage of a press conference by the NDC during the new voter ID card registration where the party made the allegation,” David Tamakloe told Ghanaweb in an interview minutes after his bail was posted.

“I have been ordered to reappear in court on 22 October,” he added.

Counsel for the journalist, Edudzi Tamakloe told journalists that the New Edubiase District Court issued a bench warrant for his client’s arrest over the said publication.

Meanwhile, the Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) has condemned the arrest of David Tamakloe.

An ASEPA statement signed by its Executive Director Mensah Thompson on Thursday, 8 October 2020, described the arrest as “a brutish attempt” to suppress press freedom and “criminalise speech”.

“This is unacceptable and a huge affront to press freedom and its related rights and freedoms and we condemn it in no uncertain terms,” the statement added.

The Group demanded the immediate release of the journalist, while urging whoever called for his arrest to direct the matter to court.

“We are calling on the police to immediately release the journalist and follow the proper procedures to get his cooperation in the libelous matter they are investigating or bring a proper action against him in court if they … have enough basis to do so.”

“Anyone who feels libeled by the publication should bring a proper action against him in court instead,” the statement reiterated.

Read PRINPAG statement below:

PRESS RELEASE 

PRINPAG CONDEMNS ARREST AND DETENTION OF ITS VICE PRESIDENT

The Private Newspaper and Online Publishers Association (PRINPAG) is shocked at the arrest and detention of its Vice-President, David Sitsope Tamakloe, who is also the Managing Editor of   Whatsup News, an online newspaper, by the Ghana Police Service.

He was arrested in Accra in the late afternoon of Wednesday October 7, 2020.

Mr. Tamakloe was said to have been arrested for publishing a news item in his Whatsup News, a virtual publication, capturing the concerns raised by some Ewes and Northerners resident in the New Edubiase Constituency in the Ashanti Region.

According to the police, Mr. Tamakloe was arrested based on a bench warrant issued by the New Edubiase District Court, because he had failed to honour an invitation extended to him to assist the police in their investigations into the complaint.

PRINPAG is of the view that, the arrest and detention of its Vice President infringed his constitutional right as a journalist, who by his profession, has the mandate and the duty to bring the concerns of all segments of the population to the attention of the powers that be, for redress.

We are also of the opinion that, such complaints against journalists could best be handled by the National Media Commission (NMC), which has a complaints and settlement mechanism that could have been resorted to by the complainant and the police as well to help address the issues at stake.

While condemning the arrest and detention of Mr. Tamakloe, the leadership of PRINPAG is reminding the police, especially and the general public that, this and other equally unconventional means of arrests of journalists for doing their work, go a long way to negatively affect Ghana’s press freedom ratings and also intimidate media practitioners to compromise their role as members of the fourth estate of the realm and as the watchdogs of society.

The leadership of PRINPAG therefore calls on all well-meaning Ghanaians and lovers of media independence and press freedom, to come out and condemn the action by the police, which we view as defeating the purpose of the repeal of the criminal libel law from our statute books.

This attitude and other similar uncomplimentary conducts against journalists and the media in Ghana, accumulate to negatively affect Ghana’s record and also label it as a country that stifles press freedom and free speech guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.

PRINPAG is of the opinion that, the arrest and detention of its Vice President constitute abuse of power by the police and is meant to intimidate Mr. Tamakloe and other serious-minded journalists in the country.

PRINPAG is of the view that, as a journalist, he only published the concerns of some aggrieved Ghanaians, which is his duty by the nature of his profession. We are therefore at a loss as to the high-handedness with which the police handled the entire saga.

As we solidarise with our colleague, one question that keeps raging through our minds is: Why arrest a journalist for being the voice of the voiceless in line with his constitutional mandate as a member of the fourth estate of the realm?

PRINPAG is also of the view that, a journalist who publishes the concerns of members of the public has not committed any criminal offence to be arrested and detained overnight by the police before being granted bail, the way things turned out.

PRINPAG reminds all Ghanaians that, the ability of the media to function effectively as the fourth estate of the realm is hooked firmly on the maximum co-operation it receives from the different entities within society at whose service it operates.

By arresting and detaining Mr. Tamakloe over such a publication, the police engaged in the unconstitutional act of intimidating the journalist and by extension, all journalists in the country.  

PRINPAG is therefore disappointed with the unprofessional conduct of the police in this matter and demands thorough investigations into the manner in which the police handled this case.

The leadership of PRINPAG therefore urges all lovers of press freedom and the independence of the media, to join forces with it to condemn the unprofessional conduct of the police and to demand unconditional apology from the leadership of the Ghana Police Service to Mr. Tamakloe, whose only crime was that, he was living up to his constitutional mandate as a journalist, who has a duty to perform in the interest of mother Ghana.

PRINPAG also demands that, any over-zealous police officer, who will be found to have misconducted himself in the manner in which the Editor was handled, should be brought to book and appropriate sanctions applied against him to serve as a deterrent to others.

The leadership of PRINPAG assures its members as well as members of the general public that, even though our colleague has been granted bail, the Association will not rest on its oars but will show interest in the case until justice is done by the Court in this case.

SIGNED

Andrew Edwin Arthur

(President)

Source: Classfmonline.com

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