Mr Robert Akoto Amoafo
Mr Robert Akoto Amoafo

The Amnesty International on Monday urged journalists not to give up in the face of difficulties and attempts to silence them.

Mr Robert Akoto Amoafo, Director, Amnesty International Ghana, said the best way for journalists to safeguard their rights was to live it.

“Even when people try to deny you the rights you so deserve, live it even when you have little strength left, live your rights so that your oppressors will accept, that is the only way out; that you will enjoy your fundamental rights as a journalist whatever they do,” Mr Amoafo stated at the maiden Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Security Seminar in Accra.

“Let me remind all of us that human rights also come with human responsibilities. We must, and always, should enjoy our rights while promoting that of others.

“We can better safeguard our rights when we in turn seek to do our work to make sure that what we do also does not harm others, but protect and promote their rights,” he said.

The seminar on safety and security of journalists, dubbed #JournalismIsNotACrime, was organised by the GJA in collaboration with the National Peace Council.

It was to equip journalists with critical safety and security information in the discharge of their duties.

Mr Amoafo said in the wake of various abuses including; the recent killing of a journalist in the country, there was no better time to have such an important seminar as this and encouraged the GJA to continue creating avenues for stakeholders to engage and develop strategies to protect the sanctity and freedom of journalists.

He said the Amnesty International had been a key human rights organisation in its continuous advocacy for the protection of journalists from violence in all forms and for whatever purposes.
He said Amnesty International regarded journalism as an important tool towards advancing democracy and the protection and promotion of human rights; stating that “therefore, for us, an attack on journalism or the media is an attack on democracy and ultimately the protection and promotion of human rights for all.

“It is therefore imperative that all stakeholders including; journalists recognise that we have a responsibility to ensure that we do not allow any form of attack on journalists, and for that matter, the media”.

Mr Amoafo noted that journalists had equal rights as any Ghanaian as enshrined in Chapter 5 of the 1992 Constitution and in all international human rights treaties.

“But, let me be quick to mention that journalists, like human rights advocates, stand in a volatile place when it comes to their human rights because of the work they do as journalists,” he said.

“In the process of doing our work sometimes we step on big toes, we expose ‘rot’ and we identify people who have ‘some power’ and those people do not like what we do and will do anything to limit us from enjoying our full rights.

“We all have to take critical steps towards ensuring that we do not allow anyone or any institution to curtail us from doing our work in advancing the welfare of all,” he said.
Mr Amoafo said the responsibility to safeguard the human rights of all Ghanaians was with the government.

He said the Government had to show continuous, unbiased commitments towards ensuring that journalists operated in an environment where rule of law was respected, and journalists were not abused or harassed because of their jobs.

“This will not only be beneficial to the journalists, but also to the government itself in its bid to promote itself as promoter of democracy,” he said.

“I will use this opportunity to call on our government to translate the standard setting framework of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalist and the Issues of Impunity into national law, policies and practices,” he said.

He called on the media institutions to place programmes, systems, and structures to protect the human rights of journalist.

“In times when journalists face violence or abuse, we need to clearly see that there is support and a movement in our media organisations that is safeguarding the rights of journalists and it must begin from their employers.”

He also urged the GJA to partner organisations, like Amnesty International, to run sustainable campaigns to demand justice for journalists.

Mr Affail Monney, GJA President said since hosting the World Press Freedom Day in May 2018, with all the plaudits showered on Ghana, journalists and media practitioners had come under avalanche of attacks from all fronts, with the police and politicians leading the onslaught.

“The height of such attacks on journalists and media practitioners was the brutal killing of investigative journalist, Ahmed Hussein-Suale by gun-men on Wednesday, January 16,” he said.
“Ghana is still holding the attention of the world press freedom credentials. But sadly, this time round, it is for all the bad reasons.

Our faces are no longer shone with smiles; they are drenched in tears. And our pride has been badly riddled with gloom,” Mr Monney said.

He said the seminar on safety and security of journalists was one of the arsenals GJA was unleashing to repel the ferocious attacks against the media.

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