The President of the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) has expressed dismay over reports by the Judicial Service that a section of the media makes “spiteful and vengeful” statements against Justices of the Supreme Court.
Mr Alfred Monney, speaking during a press briefing Monday, described the statement by the Judicial Service as one that defies logic and an “ill-crafted threat” against persons in the media.
According to him, this action is “tantamount to an unwarranted assault on all the tenets of freedom of speech and freedom of the media as guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution.”
His comments come after a statement by the lawyers of the Judicial Service of Ghana which stated that the media since the commencement of the 2020 election petition trial has engaged in the “publication of a series of incendiary, hateful and offensive statements, and speeches on their various platforms against the Justices.”
The Judicial Service, therefore, called for the removal of such statements and speeches from media platforms. However, should such statements not be taken down, “appropriate action will be taken” to ensure that “the media do not abuse the right to free speech”.
In response to the statement, Mr Monney further described these demands are “scandalous”.
“In crafting the scandalous statement, the GJA is principally of the view that the Judicial Service ought to have avoided any impression or situation that has the tendency to instil fear and promote a culture of silence into which Ghana had been enveloped during the period of autocratic misrule,” he added.
Mr Monney stated that the work of the media is in accordance with the law and follows due process since media right is not absolute, but qualified.
The GJA President is, therefore, calling on the Judicial Service to retract its “contentious statement” that tarnishes and places the work of media in disrepute.
“If not reversed immediately, the ill-advised, ill-timed, ill- crafted and ill- issued statement by the Judiciary can provoke a tsunamic backlash, lower the dignity of the court in the eyes of freedom lovers and critical citizens, pollute the media environment, undermine our impressive media rankings globally and dim the beacon of our democracy,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Ghana Journalist Association is urging all media personnel to be calm despite “how provocative the statement of the Judicial Service might be.”
Mr Monney further entreated the media to “act in the spirit of the GJA Code of Ethics that says ‘A journalist corrects inaccuracies and mistakes at the earliest opportunity and offers a chance for a rejoinder and/or an apology as appropriate”.